Military Appreciation Has New Meaning for Nighthawks

All the time in sports we use words like, "warrior" or "fighting to stay alive."

But one member of the Wichita Falls Nighthawks won't be continuing with the team this season, because he really is one of America's true warriors.

Devin Gonzalez spent this season as an outside linebacker with the Wichita Falls Nighthawks.

He is also an Airman who, until Friday, was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base here in Wichita Falls.

When he tried out for and made the team, the Nighthawks knew there was a chance this day would come.

"Of course, we thought of the possibility that he might not make it through a season," said GM Jerry Hughes. "You don't want to hold someone serving this country against them in a negative way as far as playing sports."

Now Devin is being deployed to the Middle East for six months, but the team will carry his name with them this season.

"They told me they were going to keep my name on the roster," Gonzalez said just before boarding his flight out of town. "So I mean, hopefully they win that ring so they can send it over to me."

Ironically, this Sunday's game was already scheduled to be Military Appreciation Day.

Hughes says the day will now take on an even bigger importance.

"I think our guys will ultimately rise to the occasion, probably play even better. Just due to the fact that they want to honor their teammate for serving our country."

Meanwhile Devin says he'll always carry with him the memories he made out on the field at Memorial Stadium.

"All the games together, just all-in-one, are a great memory," he said. "I'll never forget these guys."


For Military Appreciation Day, which is the regular-season finale, all active duty military can get in to the game for free just by showing their Military ID.

Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. against the 8-1 Anderson County Roughnecks.