In 2006, Juan Adriatico turned down a chance to play professional baseball and decided to go into the United States Army, where he served as an Army Chaplain and served two tours in Iraq.

During his 15 years of service, Adriatico, who dominated college baseball at both Lander University and Erskine College, was looking for a way to give back to the active military, so he fell back on his love of baseball and a dream he created when he first joined the military in 2006.

In 2016, Adriatico officially launched the USA Warriors Baseball team.

“Serving 15 years in the military, I wanted to offer something to active duty military so they can play,” Adriatico said. “Now that we are at where we are now, I got out of the military, sold my ranch, sold my house and bought a 7,500 square-foot indoor training facility where we also house our players. My guys work throughout the week with our sponsor companies, and we play Division 1 and pro teams all across North America.”

According to the USA Warriors’ website, the program’s mission is to “give back to Veterans struggling with PTSD, suicide and empowers youth within inner cities, juvenile detention centers and serves children with disabilities. We seek to share the love of Christ through the game of baseball in honoring America’s heroes.”

While the task of launching the Warriors program could have been daunting, Adriatico relied on the relationships he built during his playing days, reconnecting with former teammates and opponents to help launch the program, most of whom are baseball coaches at various levels.

“You just have to have connections. Half the guys that I knew in college, I played with or against, and we’re all head coaches now,” Adriatico said. “We know all these college coaches because we played together or played for them.”

With his experience in baseball and as a Navy Chaplain, Adriatico was able to build up the Warriors program once again through his connections, as he is able to reach out to different veterans and international players.

“We reach out to a lot of international players, military and guys 18 (years old) and up,” Adriatico said. “It’s a very unique business model. We’re sponsored by the United States Army.”

In his college career, Adriatico hit .495 in 298 plate appearances while striking out just three times. Now with the Warriors, he serves as the head coach and hitting coach.

“I played at a high level,” Adriatico said. “I train my guys to hit.”

The Warriors started their fall season on Sept. 7 playing against Scouts USA, where they split the double header at the Perfect Game facility. They will play Lander on Friday, Sept. 24, starting at 1 p.m.

Along with the Pro-AM team, the Warriors also have travel baseball and softball teams for ages 5-18. Members of the Warriors coach the teams. For more information, visit www.usawarriors.org or call 864-450-7147.