WASHINGTON – Gallaudet University baseball head coach Curtis Pride and former Bison standout pitcher and outfielder William Chapman left today for Japan as members of Team USA competing in the 2014 World Physically Challenged (WPC) Tournament. The two-day tournament will begin on Saturday, Nov. 1, as the United States will play against Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico and Taiwan. The majority of Team USA is made up of wounded war veterans and college baseball players with physical challenges.
The WPC tournament is hosted every four years and has never been won by the USA. Japan won the last tournament as the United States placed second. This is the third time the WPC tournament has been held.
"This is a tremendous honor to coach Team USA," said Pride, who is the head coach of the team. "It is amazing to see these guys living their dreams. They never thought they would play baseball again and now they have the opportunity to do so."
Pride enters his seventh season as the head coach of the Gallaudet baseball program. In six seasons, he has won over 100 games and has won 20 or more games the past three seasons. GU was the No. 1 seed in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament for the past two years. Pride was also named the 2013 NEAC Coach of the Year as GU has had 18 All-NEAC honorees in four seasons in the conference.
Three former Major League Baseball players are coaching the Team USA in addition to David Van Sleet, who is the CEO of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Pride, Casey Daigle (pitching coach) and Kevin Mench bring a combined 22 years of MLB experience to the team.
Chapman is the lone deaf player on the team as the WPC tournament only allows one deaf player per team. Chapman was a two-year letterwinner at Gallaudet in 2011 and '12. He was named to the all-conference team twice and was a 2012 American Baseball Coaches Association All-South region third team honoree.
"William will help us a lot. It is good to have someone like William to help lead the team," said Pride. "He has the most baseball experience on the squad and a lot of players look up to him."
The team held a training camp in early October in Bonita Springs, Fla., in preparation for this weekend's tournament. The team is sponsored by Louisville Slugger who has supplied bats, gloves, batting gloves, bags, backpacks and more.