By Anna-Claire Terry
As Spring continues to heat up, Miracle League’s season is underway and has more players than ever before. Director Michele Dean said there are 14 teams and 243 players this year, and there will be even more next year. The league for special needs players is two games into its season.
Games are played at the Miracle Field, a rubber, wheelchair accessible field with a drainage system to prevent rain cancellation. Dean said ages of players range from five to 79. Miracle League was started several years ago by Todd and Scarlet Shields. “It is such a blessing. It really is,” Dean said. She added that because the league has 243, its importance and the need for it in this area is obvious. “It gives those children and adults a day where they can just come out and play ball and have a good time. Their parents get to sit in the stands and watch them like they are a regular child,” Dean said. “Their name gets called out over the loud speaker, there is music playing in the background– It’s just a real fun environment for them, and they get to enjoy being just like a regular kid that day and have the same experience that many take for granted.” Volunteers for the league are called “buddies,” and Dean said smiles can be seen on their faces just as much as the players. Coaches are volunteers, many who have been coaching for years and do not even have disabled children of their own. “They are crucial to making this happen,” Dean said.
Each league is sponsored by a business or individuals, and Dean said Marketing Director Kenny Buck has done a fantastic job because there would be no league without sponsors. Miracle League players participate free of charge and are given uniforms, hats, team pictures and trophies. The league also provides gloves and baseballs.
Among special guests at Miracle Field have been Mayor Fuller, Corey Grant and Tim Hudson.
“It is such a positive and memorable experience, and it is so rewarding to be around it all,” Dean said.