Jordyn Stuessy is a 13-year-old right-handed pitcher for the Salinas Storm 14U – Enny team and, for now, is based in California.
For now because her father, Kevin Stuessy, is a Captain in the United States Air Force and the family has had five moves in three years because of his military career.
“As I get near the end of my career,” he explains, “we only have one more move in August 2020. Wherever we end up last is where Jordyn can finish her travel softball and start and finish her high school years.”
Serious softball players are used to a lot of travel, but a lot of moves? What’s it like to be a softball player when it’s hard to plant your roots?
Here’s one talented player’s perspective…
I am a military BRAT.
Why the capital letters for BRAT? I had to look it up to see why!
There are many theories online and rumors on military bases for how BRAT came about. The best and often most referenced theory is from the National Defense University Library. It states in 18th Century the British Army used “BRAT” as a status standing for British Regiment Attached Traveler (BRAT) and it was assigned to families who were able to travel with their Army Soldier.
My Dad is currently in the Air Force and been in for the past 22 years, so I can relate as an attached traveler. I get no say in where I want to go, (often times neither does my Dad). However, as a family, we push through it, find the fun and great things at the new locations, and persevere.
I was born March 30th, 2006 (2024 grad) in Moore, Oklahoma. My Mom (Casey) was born and raised there and my Dad (Kevin) was born in Dallas, Texas but raised in San Antonio. He joined the United States Air Force (USAF) and his first base was Tinker AFB in Oklahoma where they met in 2001 shortly before 9/11.
He deployed right after but stayed together and married in 2004. Since then, we have been lucky: due to his job and positions in the military his other deployments have been minimal.
My mom grew up playing softball and was a shortstop. According to her and family she was pretty good and some of her teammates ended up playing D1 softball for Oklahoma in the 90’s. Unfortunately, her father passed away when she was 15 and she quit for family needs/personal.
My Dad played soccer, even into his adult years, and my mom said he was pretty good too. She is a Registered Nurse and my Dad is a Physician Assistant now but joined as an engine mechanic. This explains some of the quick moves in our family history?
My Moves as a BRAT with Softball!
2008-2011- Seymour Johnson AFB, Goldsboro, NC.
We moved from Oklahoma to North Carolina when I was almost two years old. I wasn’t born with a softball waiting for me in the crib. In fact, there are more pictures of ballet rehearsals during that time. I did a season of soccer for my Dad in hopes that I would enjoy it, but both my parents said I was bored with it very quickly.
I don’t remember much of North Carolina other than my friends and then doing a pre T-ball season. I only remember because I got to hit the ball hard with a bat. So much better than soccer! What I do remember the most about NC was my Dad always gone a lot--not deployments, but school.
He did the prep work to apply and eventually become a Physician Assistant for the USAF when he realized he enjoyed medicine more than airplanes. He got into the program (which is very hard to get in) and it was time to move.
That was the first time I realized the need to say goodbye to my friends. I don’t think I realized that I would never see them again at that age. The medical PA program was back home in San Antonio for Dad but known as one of the toughest programs to complete.
My mom, sister and I moved back to Oklahoma City to be with family. We got to see him for holidays and vacations over the next two years. To this day, he says he isn’t sure he would have graduated with us around. Not because we distract him, but he would have just prioritized us ahead of school. He knew his limitations and knew he had to sacrifice to become a PA.
2011-2013 - Tinker AFB, Oklahoma City, OK
We lived with my Mammy for almost two years in Oklahoma while Dad was in San Antonio for school. I again tried soccer but still enjoyed T-ball way more! My mom and Aunt Lisa, who played softball through high school, coached myself and my cousin Katie who is three months younger than me (Hi Katie!)
I remember playing different positions and the team color was purple but not much else. Then, before we knew it, it was time to move.
This time was harder. I had my teammates I got to know but primarily my cousin. It was also the first time for me leaving a school and my classmates. The thoughts of starting a new school made me nervous. I had the first feeling of fear with a move.
2013-2014 - Nellis AFM, Las Vegas, Nevada
City of Lights, that place was just cool!
My Dad was still in the medical program, but they move you to do clinical rotations so while he was doing his rotations we didn’t get to see him a lot, but at least he was living with us again.
I actually didn’t play softball while in Las Vegas, but we threw and caught the ball all the time. We were only there for 15 months, just enough time to start and stop one grade of school, get to know friends and leave so we didn’t do softball or join teams, which was fine with me, but as I get older and write this article I am realizing how many “lost seasons” I have had. I
t may be why military kids don’t play sports often: they can’t keep up with the year round-season stability of kids who don’t have to pack up and move. But then I wonder, If I asked any of those non-moving kids, “If you knew you were leaving your home in 15 months, would you continue to play sports, or try to do as much as you could in that area?”
For example, we went to Legoland, Disneyland, Sea World, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, to name a few, and the beach in San Diego at least three times!
But, once again, time to move…
2014-2017 - Barksdale AFB, Bossier City, Louisiana
My first taste of real softball.
I was a little behind the curve in Louisiana with softball, but not too bad. I think it was only because I was still very young. Even though there were 8U travel teams, my parents just kept me in recreational.
My first team was coached by my mom and did pretty well, but then we joined coach pitch the next year and I played third. It’s funny now looking back I can honestly say it is one of the only positions besides catcher that I don’t like to play. The fact that I started there is ironic.
After a few rec seasons, some parents mentioned I should try out for travel ball. We were heading into 10U. Live arm pitching! My first tryout was a disaster. My parents still have the video and we laugh.
There must have been over 50 girls there who seemed to all know each other and here I am from 40 miles away and not from Louisiana. In short, three pitches from the pitch machine, three frozen swings—I didn’t even move the bat!
Luckily my parents have a pretty good gauge of me and I later found out I went to that tryout as a warm up because closer to home the team to be on was the Louisiana Titans.
I made the team during that tryout and didn’t freeze. This started my travel ball experience—I played right field which didn’t sit well with me especially after playing third base in rec ball—so just like all other girls who don’t want to play outfield, we start making winding pitch motions waiting for fly balls to come our way.
That’s how I started the process to be a pitcher. I did lessons for six months before I pitched in a game and I did pretty good! I am glad she made me wait to pitch. She was such a fun coach and I miss her! Coach Brittany (Gregg)! She is now the head coach for Airline High School in Louisiana, which made it to the Final Four in state last year, I know they can take state this year!
I still keep up with her, send her a strikeout video here or there to let her know my curveball is still my go-to pitch. It was the first pitch she taught me outside of fastball and change-up.
We also won a state championship for our Little League All-Stars at 10U for Bossier City. I was one of the younger kids on the team but knocking in two RBI’s and going 2-for-2 in the championship game was something I will always remember along with Coach Daniel and his crazy coaching ways!
The travel side of softball actually was not as much fun as All-Stars and recreational ball in Louisiana. As I get older and see more, I think it was simply too small of area. Everybody knew each other and if, on the outside, it was tough to get back in.
Way too much drama with parents and teammates and it just wasn’t fun. When we found out we were moving to California, I stuck with my All-Star rec team instead of a travel team to have more time with friends at school.
I am so grateful for that decision and how Coach Stephanie brought back the joy of softball for me! We ended up in 2nd and was the only team to beat my old travel team that season. That’s when I realized I had what it takes to be a pitcher and I have competitive blood in me.
But…again… time to move.
*** Scroll down to read about Jordyn’s move to California and how she’s adapted to her latest move!