Midnight League Report: Police league softball are great way to decompress, have fun away from duty

Amanda Day

The fall 2018 season of the Midnight Softball League was set to launch on Sept. 4 but Mother Nature had other plans. Three weeks of rain delays have this writer feeling like she’s living through Harvey 2.0.

Although the delayed start has been unfortunate, we’re eager to get started soon because we’re welcoming four new teams to the league. In addition to our four returning teams – North Command, Narcotics, Northeast and Southeast – we’re proud to have South Central, South Gessner, Westside and PALS join us this season.

When asked why she’d decided to organize a team, Officer Alysha Montello of Westside Division said, “When I caught wind of the Midnight League from Amanda Day, I thought it was a great idea for HPD to get together for some fun.

“I was surprised to hear that Westside didn’t have a team, so I made it my duty to gather a crew and make it happen. Although we haven’t played yet, we are waiting impatiently for our chance.”

As you can see, we’re all looking forward to some better softball weather in the coming weeks.

The Westside squad is eager, but fell a few players short for a full roster. Luckily for all of us, there’s an equally as eager Northwest crew that also fell a few short of a full roster. The two stations combined to make one team, and that is what this is really all about.

As the daughter, granddaughter, sister and sister-in-law of police officers, I personally enjoy Midnight League because I love seeing our officers gather every week to let loose and play some ball with their colleagues. They can let their guards down and be themselves. Their families come out and it’s a good time for everyone to be surrounded by our blue family.

Officer Brandon Jagnanan of Northeast agrees.

“I enjoy playing Midnight Softball League because it’s a chance to let loose from a long, hard day at work, and gather up with some of my colleagues to get our mind off of work,” he said.

Northeast is among one of our original teams since we rebooted the league last year. Blake Ellisor of Southeast joined the team during the fall 2017 season. Officer Ellisor said, “I play in Midnight League because it’s a way for me to get to know officers outside of the work environment. It allows me to decompress from work and enjoy some friendly competition.”

Players on the South Central Division team, another new addition to this season’s league, agree. One of them, Officer Ricky Brasuell said, “It’s a time to put work aside and have fun; to meet new officers and build a stronger bond with fellow co-workers at a time that is needed within the Blue Line community.”

In my short time running this league, I’ve learned that the opportunity to decompress is one that a lot of our players appreciate. One of the new additions to Midnight League is South Gessner Division, co-organized by Sgt. David Luis Solis and Sgt. Paul Wyssbrod. Sgt. Solis said, “We got a squad together because as most of the city is understaffed and South Gessner is in an area that has a high volume of calls for service, so we figured that a way to decompress and unwind is healthy.

“We think that Midnight League would be a good way to do so. We’re proud that the South Gessner team is made up of all shifts and hope that we will grow closer together as a division.”

Growing closer as a division, as a department, as fellow officers who have a unique understanding for what this job takes is what it’s all about.

Sgt. Clemente Reyna has been playing in Midnight League since the 90’s. Reflecting on the league then and now, he said, “I don’t think it’s too different; it’s just people hanging out. I think it’s all about camaraderie and the continued sense of rivalry and friendly competition.

“It’s also always fun seeing people that you don’t get to see too often. I think all officers can relate to the reality that once we graduate there are people we don’t see for years.” Sgt. Reyna represents the Narcotics team, and since the league was brought back last year, Narcotics has been known as a dominant competitor. They won first place in our first season, and since then remain a team to beat.

The friendly rivalry among our teams has definitely increased as the seasons roll along. When I asked one player who shall remain unnamed what he thought is the best part of Midnight Leagues, he answered, “Beating up on Narcotics.”

Well, I couldn’t resist, so I asked Narcotics for a response and this particular player (who will also remain unnamed) answered, “Yeah. We don’t like to lose. But then we just jump in our city rides and we feel better…”

Above everything, I think that the goal is to have fun. We come out every Tuesday night with e very player leaving his or her problems in the parking lot.

Officer Amanda Villarreal of North Command said, “I love Midnight Softball League! There’s nothing better than playing the game you love, building camaraderie with officers from your station (shout out to North) and playing against your coworkers from different divisions and stations.”

Although all of our teams are comprised of stations or divisions, there are a few exceptions where players will play for a team that they do not work with. This exception is mostly made for players who belong to stations or divisions that have not entered a team in the league. A perfect example of this is Officer Jesse Pena of Clear Lake Station. He said, “I’ve played on three different teams: Northeast, Clear Lake and now PALS. So for me it’s about meeting different officers and making new friends while having some good competition. I just love playing softball. Period.”

And then there’s that. The love of softball. If anything that you’ve read in this article speaks to you and makes you think, “I want to do that!” please get in touch and we can talk about entering your station into the league next season.

I can be reached at mandyleeday@gmail.com