Special needs athletes complex unveiling major upgrades this season
Published 12:20 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023
NEDERLAND — $1.5 million worth of improvements that are three years in the making are just a couple of weeks from their public debut.
“The field is probably 99 percent complete,” Allen Nation said Monday in front of the Nederland City Council. “We’re waiting on grass to grow on the back side. To say we are excited about playing on March 25 is a severe understatement. This is a dream. Once you put dreams down on paper as a goal, sometimes you achieve those goals. We have. We are just out-of-this-world excited about playing on this thing.”
Nation, the executive director of Adaptive Sports for Kids, is speaking about R L Bob Harmon Park on Park Drive in Nederland.
Adaptive Sports for Kids (A.S.K.) is a nonprofit that provides sports for young people and adults with special needs in a year-round program at no cost to the participants.
Nation said the city park is shared regularly with Babe Ruth baseball.
This season marks the 11th year of the league’s partnership with the City of Nederland, which includes using Harmon Park and Doornbos Park.
A.S.K. serves hundreds of athletes from Orange County, Port Arthur and beyond.
“March 25 is our opening day, and we are excited to start our season,” Nation said. “It’s going to be an amazing day. I have one request: please pray for good weather. That is the only thing I can’t control.”
A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., and Nation expects approximately 160 children enrolled by then.
Ward 4 Councilman David Guillot commended Adaptive Sports for Kids for the members’ dedication.
“I understand where this organization comes from because I have family who is mentally challenged and it has a big place in my heart,” he said. “I appreciate all you do for this. I know it is not easy. There is a lot of work mentally and physically. I applaud you.”
Mayor Don Albanese said those who attend an Adaptive Sports for Kids baseball game remember the experience for the rest of his or her life.
Earlier this year, work began to add artificial turf at the ballpark, where athletes.
A.S.K. began 12 years ago through the work of six founders. Originally, the organization began under the Little League Challenger division, which is tailored to athletes with special needs. But with it came an age limit.
“We had players that were too old,” Nation said previously. “Instead of telling them, ‘I’m sorry, you can’t play anymore,’ we decided to start our own nonprofit and go out on our own.”
Now, A.S.K operates around the calendar with a multitude of events, including Taekwondo, beauty pageant, baseball, soccer, bowling, basketball, fishing and dance recital.
The United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County, Valero and American Legion Post 493 have been large supporters of the league. And last year, Valero presented A.S.K. with a $120,000 grant to assist with the field.
“We will never have to worry about rain, whether it’s too wet to play, or wheelchairs and walkers having good access,” the executive director said. “It’s good for everyone.”
Adaptive Sports for Kids can be reached on Facebook, 409-779-2228 or Adaptivesports4kids@yahoo.com.