Beneath the lights of the ADA-accessible field of Bicentennial Park, with the smell of popcorn in the air and the uplifting chants of Take Me Out to The Ballgame, over 240 players, each with varying levels of special needs, paraded onto the field to celebrate the 15th season of Miracle League.
The Southlake Miracle League, an organization that gives children with special needs the opportunity to play baseball, has been a City staple since its first season in 2015. With three divisions accommodating the varying needs of players, a Buddy assigned to each athlete, and around 30 municipalities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area represented – Miracle League’s impact does not end when the ball game is over.
Out on the field, the stigma of special needs disappears. From wearing Major League team jerseys, eating hotdogs with friends after the game, and hearing the cheers of their parents from the stands, the players get the entire baseball experience except better – because every game results in a tie, and every inning ends in a grand slam.
“The League gives these players and the families a few hours of normalcy,” Tom Kormondy, Director of Operations explained. “They get to forget about everything else and just have fun.”
And this fun is facilitated by a community that has banded together for a great cause. Due to the generosity of corporate sponsors who believe in the organization, families don’t have to pay anything for their kids to play baseball. Volunteers also happily participate in varying forms by coaching, preparing the field, or being a “Buddy,” – a friend that sticks by their assigned athlete’s side to support them throughout the season.
“It’s not just going out there, hitting the ball, and going home,” Kormondy added. “The coaching staff, buddies, and volunteers are dedicated to these players, and it shows.”
Kormondy recounts emotional stories that prove the League lives up to its name, detailing moments that can only be described as miracles. Moments like when a non-verbal player happily shouted “ball!” one day, or when a blind athlete got so used to the sound of his long-time Buddy’s voice that he was able to hit a tossed ball after hearing his friend shout “swing!” at the perfect time.
“Stories like that keep me going,” Kormondy said. “To see the slightest improvement means we are doing something right.”
As the League begins its 15th season with 37 players who have been participating since its start in 2015 – it’s not out of left field to say Miracle League is a home run in terms of doing something right.
To learn more about The Miracle League of Southlake, follow this link.