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Heart of sports found in special needs league

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, November 10, 2012

A wide grin spread across Erica’s face as she crossed first base and ran into a swarm of high fives and hugs.

Judging by her excitement, one would think she had just won a tight marathon. The support of the crowd reinforced that assumption.

But Erica had simply made it to first base after a pop-up hit in a game of Wise County Special Needs Baseball.

Erika Pedroza

Erika Pedroza

That enthusiastic support wasn’t on display only for Erica. As each batter made his/her way to the plate, volunteers, coaches, family members, friends, fans (some of those correlated) and even teammates roared their cheers and applause.

Equally thrilling hoots and hollers continued as runners rounded the bases and fielders handled the ball.

That energy persisted through the end of that and every other game played that day. Because of such a high number of participants, the league organized six games each Saturday this fall season.

Sadly, the relentless roar of the crowd just a short walk over on the soccer fields was a stark contrast.

Coaches yelled to their players with no rhyme or reason. If the kids – KIDS – did something wrong, there was no guidance as to what to change. Just gripes and grumbles.

Overbearing parents objected to just about every call made. Words of encouragement were scarcely heard.

We can say that it was a highly stressful game between two competitive teams. But I’ve attended my share of sporting events to cheer on my brother and younger cousins and consistenly found this to be the case.

Volunteers give countless hours of their time to organize a league to introduce local youth to the sport of soccer and the sportsmanship taught universally in all sports – respect, fairness, friendly competition, physical activity and graciousness. Too often, the latter falls by the wayside.

Sure, that ground can easily be covered during practice, but it should be applied by players and coaches alike during competition. And parents should be advised that their lack of adherence will not be tolerated.

An example of how it should be done is just a walk away at the baseball fields. Those games solidified what sports are all about.

The only reason coaches, fans and players should be leaving games without a voice is from excessive cheering. And a lost voice is best paired with a proud smile and high-fives.

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