Buddy Ball continues to shine a light on the importance of sports
Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Everyone deserves an opportunity to enjoy sports, which is why Trevor Adam, Picayune Parks and Recreation director, led the charge to create Buddy Ball, a baseball league for disabled adults and kids.
Instead of standing on the sidelines during sporting events, these individuals get the chance fulfill their dreams by strapping on cleats and heading onto the diamond to be part of the action.
“Way too often these guys are stuck watching the game instead of playing it. One of the best aspects about Buddy Ball is that it provides a chance for them to shine under the spotlight and be a part of a team,” Adam said.
In Buddy Ball, each player is paired with a “buddy” that provides a helping hand throughout the season. The buddies are volunteers from the community, ranging from eight to 13-year-old Picayune Youth Athletic Association baseball players to local firefighters and police officers.
“This league wouldn’t be possible without the support we get from the community,” Adam said.
After a successful inaugural year, PYAA Baseball VP Corey Dorn said they planned to increase involvement and growth of the league. Since Buddy Ball is the only league for athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities in south Mississippi, they achieved that goal.
Last year, there were four adult teams and four kid’s teams filled with seven players on each squad and 10 volunteers. This year, the league nearly doubled in size, having up to two times the amount of volunteers and up to 12 players on each team.
“I am extremely proud of this community and what Picayune and Pearl River County stands for,” Adam said. “We have people come to the games just to cheer on the players while others come up to us and ask to volunteer.”
Adam said that Buddy Ball is more than a place for these individuals to play baseball, it’s an opportunity for the community to come together.
“In a bully-filled society, this league is giving kids an opportunity to stand up for what is right and volunteer to help someone else and appreciate them for who they are,” he said, referencing the turnout of teenage volunteers. “These kids are setting a precedent for the community and with their help and the many other community leaders and volunteers, we can continue to grow the league and change an enormous amount of lives.”
But above all else, Adam said there is an even deeper purpose for the families of the individuals.
“Buddy Ball provides a chance for the parents of these individuals to stop parenting for a couple of hours and cheer them on as they play ball with a happy grin on his or her face,” Adam said.
Because it is the only league in Mississippi south of Jackson for disabled individuals, Buddy Ball consists of players from Pearl River County, Bay St. Louis, Lumberton, Slidell and other neighboring cities.
In the future, Adam said he hopes Buddy Ball continues to reach more children and adults across the region. If it does, the league will offer more sports such as soccer. Adam said the recent rainy weather has forced him to extend the duration of this year’s league due to so many cancelled games. To fix this problem, he said they are looking for a place to play these games indoors.
With the league quickly expanding, more volunteers are needed to keep these player’s dreams intact. To volunteer for future seasons, contact Adam at the Picayune Parks and Recreation Department at 601-799-0602.