New PYAA league was a homerun
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Buddy Ball league, the only league for athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Mississippi south of Jackson, celebrated the end of its first season last week and provided great news for those that participated.
“We have been fully funded to play again next year,” Tom Milar, President of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Picayune Area, said.
Buddy Ball was developed by the Picayune Youth Athletic Association with a “belief that every child has the right to participate in the games of baseball and softball, regardless of their physical or mental ability,” PYAA Baseball website states.
In Buddy Ball, each participant is paired with a “buddy” that provides mental and physical support throughout the season. The league welcomes boys, girls and active adults with intellectual or physical disabilities that have a desire to play organized baseball. The league is divided into adult and youth teams. In the first year, the league had four adult teams and two youth teams.
“This means the world to them. They have been on the sidelines watching their siblings play so now it is their chance to become the star and participate,” Buddy Ball Director Trevor Adam said.
To Adam and all the volunteer buddies, there is more to it than providing these participants with an opportunity to play on a team.
“This is a great chance for the families of these members to sit back and enjoy cheering them on,” Adam said. “We give the parents an opportunity to stop parenting and just watch their kid play ball with a smile on his or her face. Seeing those smiling faces is priceless.”
Now that the first year has concluded, Adam and PYAA Baseball VP Corey Dorn plan to increase involvement and grow the league.
“Kids come from all over the state just to play ball. We have participants from Lumberton, Bay St. Louis and even Jackson. It’s a great opportunity for them, but it also is enjoyable for us volunteers. We get to see and play with these amazing people and we all make new friends in the process,” Adam said.
Some volunteers from around the community include Picayune Fire Department Chief Keith Brown, Picayune Police Department Detective Christa Groom and many more.
Last week, all participants and some of the volunteers gathered for a closing ceremony where pizza and cake were served and trophies were awarded to each participant. Also, the Kiwanis Club of Greater Picayune Area, the sole sponsor of PYAA Buddy Ball League, had an uplifting announcement for the future of the league.
“We are looking at grants to construct an indoor facility for the participants to play in,” Milar said. “Rain was a bit of an issue this year. We want to be able to serve these members with what they deserve and that’s a place they can call their own and play in no matter what the circumstances might be.”
When the facility will be built is still being determined.
“This league teaches these guys more than just teamwork,” Adam said. “It helps with social language, being active and getting to step back from the world and just focus on a fun and exhilarating game.”
Adam has a background in special needs education, so he knows the significance of volunteers. He hopes to increase that support in the future.
“All of this would not be possible without Tom and the Kiwanis Club, Corey Dorn, Norman Wheat and all the volunteers,” Adam said. “I can’t wait for next season.”
Visit pyaabaseball.net for the online registration forms or contact Corey Dorn at (601) 273-1871.