Watching the little league world series this past weekend. made me think of my own exsperinces playing sports as a kid.
I would like to thank 2 men who helped give me some of my most fond memories of my childhood. Being a kid with cerebral palsy growing up in the 1980s I was often told by my mom that kids in walkers and wheelchairs did not play ball ( do not be too hard on Mom reader in the preinclusion movement of the 1990s this was true) My PE experience in elementary was not with my able-bodied classmates but often it was with my fellow special needs students I remember a lot of times Mrs. King’s Room(my”homeroom” of students with physical challenges either divided into two teams or Us against Mrs Crawley’s visually challenged class. Mr. King one of the PE teachers for the school, and Mrs King’s husband would often assist us in athletic endeavors. One of my most vivid memories of elementary PE was a warm spring day playing what now would be called beep baseball against Mrs.Cawley’s class ( played with a ball the beeps alerting a player with visual difficulty can hear when the ball is close).Mr. King tells me he is going help me play shortstop like Davey Concepcion. so I’m standing in my walker with Mr.King’s fingers around my belt loop to help give me more support to stand. well sure enough a batter hit a hot smash in the hole i’m trying to dive like Davey would. He is yelling at me ” No , Greg No !!!” hanging on to my belt loop for dear life to keep me from falling. All i’m thinking is ,”I have to get that beeping ball.” it was a very funny sight I’m sure.
In 8th grade the ADA opened the door for my friend Joel ( Joel had MD and ued an electric wheelchair. ) I to be in regular PE. We had the great fortune of being in Mr. Bright’s class. He gave us the chance to play regular games and sports to best of our ability He would often play wiffle ball which even though i went 0- 63 with 62 Ks as a ba ter I enjoyed every moment because I always thought that i was going to either do the sence from the Natural
or fogghorn leghorn that great pitcher/ pe edutaor Steve bright
The one I made solid contact off him i had hit a screaming line driveline down the first base line but i had dropped the bat right in front of my wheels. So there I was. I had finally hit one off of a guy that owned my entire whiffe career and was slowed by having to push myself ( classmates were not allowed to help ) around that bat I had discarded. I worked my way around that and just got out by half a stride I do’nt who felt worse my classmates, myself or Mr Bright. I went back to over trying to hit the ball so i could recreate that almost magical moment. Mr. Bright always made me think my first hit was just the next swing away.
Another game I loved to play was goofball. Goofball was a version of kickball. Bases were home, first, and second. When the ball was kicked, the runner could go to first or second. Once on base you did not have to run till you were sure you could make it home. Once on second you could not go back to first. Unlimited numbers on base. No force out. Out by being hit with ball. The ball could be a volleyball or a playground kick ball. Caught ball is out and runners , if off base must get back. Foul lines up to playing field. Joel and got DKs (designated kickers) but we had to use our own power to run from the plate to where ever we n wanted to go. The funniest thing would be when the DKs would start running and have to be reminded that all they got to do that ab was kick Joel and I used whatever power we had ( joel eletric and me brut stengh and pete rose type of husstle . I never wanted my abled bodied class mates to think I was going to go easy through a game plus I was enjoying myself so much from all those years that i did not join them at play much.
I love the fact that there are chalenger divisions in Little league, miracle leagues and wheelchair softball for folks with disabilities. But I also thank folks like Mr. Bright and Mr King who were helping kids play before these things came into public knowledge.
I also hope this article will give pe teacher an awesome game to play ( i hope the dodgeball-like elements will not scare schools and teachers away from a fun game)