Courtney Wall, COTA/L
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
Bailey Reilly-Montes, MOT, OTR/L
Lead Occupational Therapist
Special Kids’ own Courtney Wall, Occupational Therapy Assistant, and Bailey Reilly-Montes, Lead Occupational Therapist, are coaching a local Miracle League baseball team. Courtney and Bailey recently shared their experience.
Q. Why did you decide to get involved with the Miracle League?
Courtney: I have looked into ways to volunteer with multiple special needs baseball/softball leagues because softball was such an influential part of my life but never could pull the trigger to go out there and volunteer. I have had such a pull on my heart in the past year to do more volunteer work or mission work that when I was contacted I couldn’t turn it down. I knew it was meant to be, it was a God thing for sure. It was placed in my life for a reason and I knew I had to go forward with it.
Bailey: Courtney and I had been talking about coaching for quite some time and Courtney came across this opportunity and asked if I would like to join her in coaching. Courtney did an amazing job putting together what was needed for our team.
Q. What has your position as “coach” been like?
Courtney: I honestly don’t know how to put into words the gift and life lesson that this opportunity has been for me, both on a personal and professional level of growth. It absolutely filled my heart each time I left the field. I will admit that at first I was completely overwhelmed by the idea of transitioning from being a player to THE coach. I have played ball all my life and know the game inside and out but never had the opportunity to coach, let alone coach a group of individuals with such a wide variety of skills, cognitive, and physical abilities. I worried a lot about being able to break down everything for each individual in a way that each player comprehended and could progress their skills but most of all I wanted to make sure they had FUN. As the season went on I was more confident in myself and really understood each athlete’s skill-set and how to help each one progress. Throughout the season I had multiple parents from my team and others compliment me on how well I understood each player and able to play up each of their strengths. These words of encouragement really fostered my confidence which helped me to better serve my players. The parent’s acknowledgement of my efforts and acceptance of me being a part of this amazing community meant so much to me.
Bailey: As coaches, we were responsible for facilitating the player’s participation in the game. Our job really boiled down to getting to know the players, their abilities, and preferences and making sure the environment and support was in place to make the game as fun and as accessible as possible for them.
Photo Credits: DNJ and Shacklett's Photography
Q. What does the League mean to you and to your team members?
Courtney: This league meant so much to me. It gave so many individuals the ability to experience something that so many people, including myself, take for granted as we are growing up and playing ball. These athletes now have the ability to play the sport that shapes so many young people’s lives. They can experience the same thing their older/younger brothers and sister get to do. They learn how to have pride and dedication of not only themselves but others. They learned to work as a team and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It absolutely filled my heart every week to see the athletes overjoyed as they had so many firsts, first pitched ball, first caught pop fly, and even first time hitting a ball out of a park. Growing up softball played a huge part of my life and really shaped who I am and I am so thankful these athletes get to experience that same thing.
Bailey: The league meant so much to Courtney and I. We left the first practice and game and every encounter after content, excited, and so in love with the sport and the doors it opened for these kids. It really renewed our passion for serving and it reminded us to use our god given gifts to serve his children.
Q. Anything else you’d like readers to know about the Miracle League?
Courtney: The league needs volunteers to be buddies. Please note, buddies must be in middle school or older and help coach. If anyone is able to help in any way, shape, or form it is really needed and would be genuinely appreciated by so many that are served through the Miracle Field League. You can contact Angie Keating at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also currently getting things together for the fall league; sign-ups will start Saturday, July 1st, and will most likely run from August to October. I also feel that if anyone has a child that plays ball that they should bring their kid out so that they can see the joy and passion these kids feel as they play and it will renew their love and passion for the game as well.
About the Murfreesboro Miracle Field
The Murfreesboro Miracle Field was funded in part by Project One Four, a David Price Foundation. Miracle Field features a customized, special rubberized baseball field built for children and adults with special needs and accommodates wheelchairs and other assistive devices. In addition to the ball field, the complex includes an inclusive playground that benefits and is accessible for all children.
Special Kids staff and family members were recently invited to volunteer during games as well and had a wonderful time.
For more information, please visit http://project14.org/