Anyone who has participated in athletics has known the thrill of hearing their name announced over a loud speaker. But for people with disabilities it is rare their names will be heard in such a setting.
But Friday, Nov. 4, the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball players coached a group of 11 students and five staff members from Friends Life, a non-profit organization located on Granny White Pike with a mission to improve the daily lives of students involved in the program.
The Lady Bisons worked on individual skills with each student, ate pizza together and played a game complete with announcements of each batter.
“They don’t get the chance to hear their names called out on the loudspeaker,” Lady Bisons assistant coach Heather Collins said. “One little girl heard her name and turned around and held her hands up. It was so cute.”
Vanessa Medina, Haley Elliott and Mollie Mitchell handled the announcing duties.
On the field Caroline Mason and Rena’ Cothron served as a group leaders.
“I really enjoyed hanging out with the Friends Life group,” Mason said “The kids had so much energy and life!”
Mason spent a lot of time with a girl named Kate who had personality-plus.
“I immediately was attached to her,” Mason said. “She was such a sweet girl!
“We went through drills, ate pizza and then we played a game of wiffle ball. During the game of wiffle ball Kate was more concerned about telling me her life stories about school and her boyfriend. She was hilarious and kept me laughing through the entire time we were together.”
The Lady Bisons softball team is trying to schedule several outreach projects for this academic year. This one was really special for Mason since her career plan is to be a special education teacher.
“I really enjoyed this project,” Mason said. “It allowed me to smile on a rough day. This was right up my alley. I loved the kids and would love to do it again soon!”
Collins spearheaded the planning and the implementation of the event. Collins chose Friends Life because of its close proximity to the Lipscomb campus. The Lady Bisons spent about 2 ½ hours interacting with the students.
“The girls get so much out of doing community service,” Collins said. “This year we want to bring awareness to our team. We want them to get more involved. We want them to be more appreciative of what they have. We want to bring a little bit more perspective to their lives. It was a blast.”
During the short ride back on the van Jake Habegger, curriculum and assessment administrator for Friends Life, told the students they would come back next year and a loud collective cheer was heard in response.
“First of all, I want to thank Lipscomb for giving us the opportunity to spend time with the women’s softball team, learning to play softball and having positive social interactions with members of the community,” Habegger said. “Many of our participants’ disabilities have kept them from ever playing in higher level organized sports. For most of them this was the first opportunity to play, and even have their names announced over the speaker system.
“The amount of work the softball team put in to help our participants with the most severe physical issues to hit, catch, and throw softballs means the world to us. Meeting a group of ladies that have such big hearts for people with disabilities reminds us that there are still people put there that really want to make a difference in other people’s lives!”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.