Friday, July 15, 2011

O'Dell, Cordova give back on Miracle Field

Edgewood College baseball player Ryan O'Dell is serving children with disabilities this summer by managing Miracle Field in Roselle, Ill. He and 20-30 volunteers, including Eagle women's soccer player Zenaida Cordova, meet every Monday night in the summer to help kids with disabilities learn the joys of baseball, teammwork and inclusion. Read Ryan's summary of Miracle Field below... 

O'Dell (in green shirt) cheers on a Miracle Field player
 "The program I have been in charge of is called Miracle Field. Throughout the early spring I was in charge of spreading the word about the program as well as finding 20-30 volunteers. The 20 volunteers include ex-baseball players from my high school, St. Charles East, as well as others who found out about the program and just wanted to help. Zenaida Cordova who plays on the Edgewood College Women's soccer team also helps volunteer.

For eight Monday nights this summer we meet at Miracle Field in Roselle, Ill. and for two hours help teach/play baseball with children who have disabilities. Their ages are from 5-13 and their disabilities range from down syndrome to mentally challenged. Every player is paired with a "buddy" or volunteer and they stay together through out the eight weeks. When we get to the field, we meet for 10 minutes with our buddy and ask them how their week was, etc. Then we'll gather on the field and stretch. Next we try and work on basic fundamentals that can improve their overall flexibility and hand-eye coordination. These include fielding a soft ball that is rolled to them, throwing the ball back to a buddy, or running the bases. After that, it is time to play ball.
Cordova instructs her Miracle Field buddy

The players are separated into two teams and while one team is hitting the other are at their positions in the field. The team who is hitting walks one-by-one up to the plate and hits a soft ball off a tee and run to first base while the other team fields it. Base runners may only move up a base at a time and there are no outs. Often times before the ball is hit we will call out to the fielders what base the ball should be thrown to, which also helps with their concentration. The last batter to hit runs all the way around the bases for "home run". Then the teams flip from field to hitting. The games usually last 3 full innings.

Miracle Field itself is something special. Donated by the Chicago White Sox, it is a scaled down replica of their stadium. Complete with lights, a soft rubber coating turf, and dugouts, not only does it offer the players a special night game but is also safe for everyone and is wheelchair proof.

Currently, Miracle Field has been a great thing with a great turnout as well as the volunteers who have worked with the kids. My next job will be to meet with several sponsors/marketers in hopes of spreading the word and taking the program to more places for next summer. On July 25th there will be an open house, anyone who is interested can come stop by and see the program in action."


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