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Baseball magic for kids with special needs [North Laurel/Savage]

Howard County Times

Jon Dupski, mathematics instructional team leader and varsity baseball coach at Atholton High School, enjoyed a perfect spring Saturday afternoon recently enjoying America’s favorite game, baseball, in a very special way. Atholton High School was the site for the first game of the season for the League of Dreams, an organization that gives special needs children the opportunity to play baseball.

Dupski described the special day to me, which occurred on Saturday, April 27.

Former MLB players Mike Bordick, a former Oriole, and Steve Lombardozzi Sr. started the day with players, talking to them about their own baseball experiences getting to and playing in the major leagues. Fielding and hitting stations were set up, where Atholton players worked with the players on the fundamentals of the game, sometimes using adaptive equipment provided by League of Dreams.

After that, the Color Guard presented the flag and the National Anthem was sung by Atholton student Grace Tyson. The game provided all players a chance to hit and run the bases. Coach Dupksi told me that the day was “extremely fun to watch as a coach” and he feels lucky to have shared it with his players and students. He also said, “The most memorable part for me were the interactions between all students involved. The way they worked together while having fun and sharing the love of the game was amazing to watch.”

According to Ben Lew, a senior varsity baseball player, "The League of Dreams event was a great way for the baseball team to share the game of baseball with special needs students, who were definitely the real stars of the show. Some of the special needs players had a bunch of very strong throws and were putting a nice swing on the pitches, too. It was such a cool experience to have Mike Bordick and Steve Lombardozzi Sr. to share some of their work ethic and major league experience with us. Their presence really put the sport into perspective; that after our playing days are in the rear view window, we can still give back to the community with this sport."

Justin Jaquis is the manager of the baseball team and he is credited with creating the link between the League of Dreams and the high school. While this was only the first year for the partnership and the game, it will not be the last according to Dupski. Jaquis was proud of the partnership and said, “I was able to see two of my organizations come together as one and have a great experience. I saw my Atholton baseball teammates in a different way and saw how that experience has impacted them positively on and off the field.”

Mid-Atlantic Sorts Network produced a short video about the event which can be found by going to youtube.com

The Savage Historical Society is preparing for its next meeting at the Faith and Ministry Center at 9032 Baltimore St. in Savage. Enter off of Foundry Street and bring a friend to hear presenter Amy Reytar speak. She will discuss the topic “ICC Valuation Survey: The B&O Railroad in Savage.” Questions can be answered by calling the society president at 301- 805-0891 or the secretary at 301-725-1241.

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