Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Woody and the Nitzberg families got together to fill a need that was not being met in the Wayzata area. That need was to provide kids with special needs the opportunity to get involved in sports.
After meeting with Parker’s Lake personnel regarding the start of a weekly adaptive softball team, we began a multi-community-based group that met on the field across from the lake and below the picnic area. Parents brought their kids for what became an institution on that field for a number of years. The players ranged from elementary to junior high school students with very diverse challenges.
Everyone Who Showed Up Got to Play
As the “coach and starting pitcher,” I either gently lobbed the wiffle ball we used to the awaiting batter or set it upon the t-ball stand as needed. Whether in braces or wheelchairs (motorized or manually operated), visually impaired or sighted, understanding how to navigate the bases or not, everyone who showed up got to play ball, at whatever level was appropriate for them. Each one sported the hats and T-shirts the Woodys were able to supply them thanks to the sponsorships provided by various local businesses.
Parents and older siblings (including my wife, Laurie, and occasionally our daughter, Corly) served as base coaches helping students make it to first-base (a major achievement for many), or on to successive bases. Once in a great while, someone managed to make it all the way to home plate! Whether a base hit, a double, a triple, or that elusive home-run, the enthusiastic onlookers in the bleachers all clapped and cheered the players on, irrespective of whose kid was up or how far they managed to make it. There were no losers only winners in that weekly game which, in retrospect, was these kids’ very own “Field of Dreams”.
Our son, Travis, was one of the active members of this group of enthusiastic athletes, along with Leslie Fish and Nathan Schofield, who are all now together again, in a manner of speaking, as the people who are served by Hammer. The accomplishments they were able to achieve on that “softball” team decades ago have continued to grow. The game of baseball connected them during their youth. Today these young adults have another connection, bringing them together full circle, successfully navigating a different set of bases as adult members on a much larger team.
They work on a hobby farm in called eQuality – Pathways to Potential. On the farm, a thriving Community Supported Agriculture operation, these young adults help supply many of our Hammer homes with fresh produce during the growing season.
Written by Kevan Nitzberg, Parent and Hammer Board Member, Public Advocacy Committee Member. Spotlight story from Winter 2015 Discoveries. Read more stories from Discoveries here: http://issuu.com/hammerresidence/docs/2015winterdiscoveries