Sharks to assist youth baseball program

NSU’s baseball team plans to give back to the community by participating in a program called the West Pembroke Pines Miracle League on Sept. 25.

The Miracle League provides an opportunity for mentally or physically-challenged children, who would otherwise be unable to participate with their healthy peers, to play baseball.

The league started in the metropolitan Atlanta area in 1998 and has since grown into 275 organizations world-wide, including in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Australia. The Miracle League serves over 200,000 disabled young children and receives support from 22 Major League Baseball clubs, as well as several current and former players and coaches.

Athletic Director Mike Mominey started the partnership nine years ago when he was head coach. Mominey said he had the privilege to be involved in the early initiatives of the Miracle League alongside its founders.

“The program has grown and as of today, up to 50 young boys and girls participate in this wonderful baseball program,” he said.

Greg Brown continued the relationship with the league when he was named head coach five years ago and has maintained his role as facilitator ever since.

“We are all very proud to be associated with Miracle League and be able to share our game with the young boys and girls, who play with so much enthusiasm,” Brown said. “It is truly a night that we mark on our calendar every single year and look forward to.”

Starting third baseman Kavan Thompson, senior biology major, said he gets more out of the experience than he believes the children do.

“It’s just really rewarding to see all the kids play baseball,” he said. “They truly enjoy playing, and seeing them smile makes me appreciate the game a lot more.”

Though this will be the first Miracle League experience for freshman pitcher Anthony DiFede, computer engineering major, he has been involved with the program since he was on the Bobcats baseball team at West Broward High School, which is located only a mile from the league’s home field.

DiFede, who is friends with one of the players, said that it’s a great chance for them to not worry about their disabilities and to feel completely supported.

“When the kids are out on the field, they’re laughing the whole time,” DiFede said. “It’s nice to see that. The only thing they’re thinking about is having fun.”

One of Thompson’s favorite aspects is maintaining friendships with the kids they help year after year.

“It’s a great feeling getting to go back every year. Seeing the same faces and having a long relationship with these ball players is a great experience,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going back after graduation to keep the relationships we’ve made.”

Volunteer service hours for the Miracle League are also available to the public. To find more information about Miracle League, visit wppomiracleleague.com.

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