The Virginia Vipers Softball Club (VVSC) for Veterans has its genesis in the Fairfax Adult Softball league during the fall 1997 season. Yet the mighty Vipers moniker was much less appealing in the flagship season: the Woodchucks. The founder of the fighting Woodchucks was a Tennessean, Jimmy Sneed, who had moved to Northern Virginia to pursue his dream of running the most successful softball organization on the planet and to pursue a career as an electrical engineer.
Jimmy found himself in the metropolis of Centreville, Virginia at an apartment complex known as the Woodway at Trinity Center, which resembles the set of Melrose Place (for you 90’s T.V. buffs). Sneed joined the complex’s coed softball team to play in the spring 1997 season. Jimmy’s hard-core desire to play softball again compelled him to compete with this disastrous COED team. On this squad, Jimmy met another die-hard softball player – Matt Bradley – who would become another piece of the foundation for the VVSC for Veterans. After the COED team’s season of futility, Jimmy and Matt formed a men’s team to compete in the Fall of 1997 and the Woodway Woodchucks were launched; over the next few years, this group would morph itself into the Virginia Vipers Softball Club for Veterans.
Jimmy’s inaugural season of piloting the Woodchucks ended with a respectable eight- win-against-six-loss season. The Woodchucks were in a position to win their division until the last night of the season. Not only did Sneed lead the team as its manager, he managed to outhit his team mates to win the Woodchuck’s first batting title and Keith Warren was the first Most-Valuable-Player in the VVSC for Veteran’s history. Good things promised to come but the Spring 1998 season proved to be a less-than .500 effort with Keith Warren winning the battle title and MVP. The positives in the spring season were that Sneed continued to add building blocks to the team’s foundation by adding Steve Valvanis, Bill May and Shey Edwards. The three would eventually became staples for the VVSC for Veterans.
Sneed made his move in the fall and changed the team’s image, entering the “fallball” under the Vipers moniker. Unfortunately, turnaround in terms of record would not happen yet and the Vipers finished with six wins and eight losses. Success would continue to elude Sneed and the Vipers in early 1999. Finishing with only three wins against seventeen losses, the Vipers actually lost both ends of the double header by a combined score of 42 to 3 managing only two hits in the second game of slow-pitch softball doubleheader.
The fall of 1999 would find Sneed toiling away at adding players and improving the Vipers. Finally, his diligence paid off two-fold. The Vipers had a winning season with nine wins and five losses and Jimmy Sneed took his first Most-Valuable-Player award as a Viper. Yet, 2000 would be a year that showed more retraction than improvement as the Vipers managed a ten and ten record in the spring and a losing record in the fall.
The Vipers finally turned a page in the spring of 2001 and began their slow rise to becoming an elite team in Fairfax County. Carl S. Ey had run a few military-centric teams. He combined with Jimmy Sneed to help run the organization. The Vipers introduced Eric Wooten – pure hustle – to the team. Second place was the finish and our batting champion, Dave Keitel set a Viper record with a .780 average over a 20-game season. It remains the Viper record to this day.
Yet, 2001 would be a critical year in the Viper’s history. Needless to say all softball was interrupted on the fateful day of 11 September 2001. Many of the Vipers would not return to the field as the service members and government service members who enjoyed playing with the Vipers were called away to support our country. By the mercy of God none of our teammates were hurt in the attacks. However, our hearts go out
to the ones who were not so lucky. We will never forget 9-11 and to this day our website continues to pay tribute with a 9-11 logo. We finished with a sub-.500 season and more bad news followed as long-time Viper, Todd Musa was diagnosed with leukemia.
Musa fought hard and put his cancer into remission as he joined the Vipers on the field again in the Spring of 2002. Todd’s strength was an example to all of the Vipers as the team finished with a winning record but the team could not break the glass ceiling and didn’t finish in the top two. The fall of 2002 saw the transfer of leadership from a Sneed-solely run team to a combined leadership team of Carl S. Ey and Jimmy Sneed. After the two combined, Carl S. Ey was called away to Operation Iraqi Freedom for a year. Combined leadership was a great move but Jimmy continued to run the show in Carl’s absence.
As 2003 began, the momentum was beginning to race as the Vipers were competing in many leagues. The Vipers finished with thirteen victories in the spring good enough for second place. New technology was impacting the game as the Miken Ultra II bat was on the field and the Viper power numbers increased significantly. The Vipers added a quick leadoff hitter in Dave Marsh who provided plenty of long-ball punch and the organization’s collective spirits began to soar.
Shortly after the successful spring 2003 campaign, we lost our team mate and friend, Todd Musa. He and his wife Erika will be in our prayers eternally.
The fall of 2003 was a winning campaign but the Vipers were beginning to measure success with trophies yet the Vipers didn’t finish on the leader board. The bright spot in the fall 2003 season was the addition of a pure power hitter in Ron Pack. Carl S. Ey returned in November of 2003 and began to ardently work on sponsorship.
The Vipers softball club took off in 2004 competing in six leagues and amassing an 87-65 record over all leagues. “Hardware” was part of the equation now and the Vipers competed in their first Master’s league (over-35) adding more military members and more government service professionals. Additionally, the ladies got on board and the Vipers COED team was part of the club’s success!
2005 proved to be an average year with seventy total wins against sixty-three losses. But 2006 was the first year that the Vipers ran the table with twenty-one wins and no losses in their COED summer league. Additionally, the over-35 squad went seventeen and three. This was the year the Vipers added their official tournament team competing the World’s Largest Softball Tournament in Richmond. Reality on the tournament circuit was a surprise as the mighty Vipers could only manage one victory against seven losses in Richmond. This disappointing effort in the Richmond tournament became a rallying point for the Vipers in years to come.
The Vipers had a winning record in 2007 at the World’s Largest Softball Tournament and enjoyed a great year on the field in league play. Every team except the Masters team and one fall team had a winning record. Yet the Fairfax league recognized the Viper’s prowess on the field and placed the team in Division Two in 2007. Additionally, 2007 was the first year the Vipers would play in over 200 games in a season (from March to November); simply unheard of for one club to play in that many games. The following year, the Vipers showed some real dominance in the Reston league winning the division and championships out there but other than that bight spot, the season was fairly mundane.
The Vipers played in more than ten tournaments in 2009 playing over 200 games again at a .659 winning percentage to include their first national tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. At this point, the Vipers Softball Club had five league teams and a travelling team. Sponsorship had grown and all league registration fees as well as proper uniforms were covered by sponsorship donations.
2010 would be another successful campaign with strong competition in league play and further success in the thirteen tournaments. The Virginia Vipers Softball Club for Veterans won the World’s Largest Softball Tournament in Richmond and placed second in Las Vegas, Nevada. They finished the season with 120 victories against 89 losses.
Shortly after the 2010 season ended the Vipers worked with a D.C. law firm to officially establish the Virginia Vipers Softball Club for Veterans as a 501C3. After years of competition on the tournament circuit and league play, the VVSC for Veterans decided to make itself an official entity that had allowed and will continue to allow veterans and government employees a venue to compete in the local and regional softball programs.