Bright and early on Saturday mornings, members of the Trinity baseball and softball teams can be seen heading off campus to help special needs adults play non-competitive co-ed softball in the Texas Lone Star Play Ball League. Started in 2009 by Ed Taylor, the teams play on Saturday mornings throughout September and October.
“One of the purposes of our league is to promote socialization of adults with special needs,” Taylor said.
“They rarely have contact with people outside their environment and group home.
We have this one lady who’s 46 years old and never played softball. She’s in a motorized wheelchair and she contacts VIA Transportation to pick her up and take her to the game. She’s very excited about being a part of a league and doing something she’s never done before.”
Members of the baseball and softball teams act as buddies to the players and shadow them throughout the game. This includes watching them hit, helping them field, running the bases with them and making sure they don’t get hurt.
“They do two innings and they just go through the entire lineup,” said senior third baseman Becca Rush. “When the very last person hits it they run all the way home. It usually lasts about an hour or so, a little more. They love us being there, it’s an absolute blast.”
This experience has had a positive impact on many of the Trinity players, including Rush and sophomore Andres Leyva, an infielder on the baseball team.
“It’s a great thing; I love doing it,” Leyva said. “It makes you appreciate life a little more. You’re helping people play sports, and you can see that they just love playing the game. It helps them put a smile on their face. You’re just out there for an hour and a half, and for them it’s something they look forward to the whole week.”
Although attendance is required at least twice throughout the season, some Trinity players enjoyed it so much that they actually stepped up and managed a couple teams in the league. This requires making up the line-up card, matching teammates with volunteers and overseeing the games.
“They come out there and see what the special-needs adults have to go through every day, 24/7, and it takes their minds off their own situations,” Taylor said. “We’ve had several players at several schools tell us that. The bottom line is that it’s a positive experience for everyone.”
To volunteer, simply register online at lonestarplayball.org. The league is looking for volunteers to serve as player buddies, team coaches, photograph games and assist with fundraising throughout the year.
“It makes all of us love getting up early on Saturday, if that’s even possible,” Rush said. “It’s the greatest time; we love it.”
Chloe Pope-Levison is a Sports reporter for the Trinitonian.