Coming full circle

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, poses with a Sept. 5, 1997, Goodfellow Monitor during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. In the photo, a 2-year-old O’Keefe stands on the sidelines holding a ball that belonged to then Tech. Sgt. Darrell Drost, Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy and 312th Training Advanced Fire Recue Course fire instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, poses with a Sept. 5, 1997, Goodfellow Monitor during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. In the photo, a 2-year-old O’Keefe stands on the sidelines holding a ball that belonged to then Tech. Sgt. Darrell Drost, Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy and 312th Training Advanced Fire Recue Course fire instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, swings during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe wanted to play softball since he was 2 years old. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, swings during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe wanted to play softball since he was 2 years old. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, catches a ball during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe has been playing for 12 years since he was 7 years old and has participated in football, basketball and track. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, catches a ball during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe has been playing for 12 years since he was 7 years old and has participated in football, basketball and track. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, jumps to catches a ball during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe plays 2nd base and short stop as a dependent member of the 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, jumps to catches a ball during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe plays 2nd base and short stop as a dependent member of the 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, slides to catch a ball during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe has been playing for 12 years since he was 7 years old and has participated in football, basketball and track. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nicholas O’Keefe, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits player, slides to catch a ball during a photo shoot at the Mathis Fitness Center multipurpose field June 30. O’Keefe has been playing for 12 years since he was 7 years old and has participated in football, basketball and track. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Laura R. McFarlane)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- What began as a little boy's dream has now become a young man's reality.

According to his mother Sharon Carey, who was stationed here from 1997 to 1999, Nicholas O'Keefe wanted to play softball since he was 2 years old.

In a photo taken in 1997, a 2-year-old O'Keefe stands on the sidelines holding a ball that belonged to then Tech. Sgt. Darrell Drost, 312th Training Squadron Advanced Fire Rescue Course instructor.

"I don't remember giving it, but I do remember him being at the games," said Drost, who played for the 312th TRS softball team back then.

Now, 17 years later, O'Keefe plays 2nd base and short stop as a dependent member of the 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Bandits alongside Drost.

"Makes me feel old!" said Drost. "The first game I played this season his mother introduced him to me as the 'little guy that used to watch the 312th games.' It was hard to believe how time has passed ... one day he was little and outside the field, and the next he was grown and inside the field. It is a great thing to see the younger generation have the same passion for the game of softball and baseball as I did when I started at 17 years old. Nic is a good guy, never complains, also on time and gives 100 percent every play, can't ask for more than that."

Even though he plays for the Bandits now, O'Keefe said one of his most memorable moments is playing high school baseball against Wall High School.

"It's where I made most of my big plays," he said. "Senior year I was the only person to get a hit against Wall."