Special needs athletes have upgraded new home for better competition

Published 7:46 pm Sunday, March 26, 2023

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With more than 500 in attendance, Adaptive Sports for Kids held its opening day ceremonies and ribbon cutting for a brand new baseball field Saturday at Bob Harmon Park 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. The new field is a game-changer for the athletes.

A.S.K. serves hundreds of athletes from Orange County, Jefferson County and beyond.

The presentation of the United States and Texas flags during the National Anthem. (Clayton Eaves/Special to The Leader)

The new baseball diamond features an artificial turf infield, which is especially beneficial for children with wheelchairs and walkers.

The turf allows them to be more independent and easily navigate the field. In the past, rain and muddy batter’s boxes made it difficult for the athletes to play. With the new field, you can say goodbye to mud and rainouts.

Opening day was a huge success, with booths set up around the field offering free goodies from organizations in the community.

A blow-up tunnel was also set up on the field for all the athletes to run out of, adding to the excitement and fun of the day.

After presenting the new turf field to the community, Allen Nation, executive director of Adaptive Sports for Kids, expressed his excitement for the field and what it took to reach this point.

“In three years we’ve put almost a million and a half dollars into this field,” he said. “Along with the city, ourselves, different donors — United Way, American Legion, Valero, Nederland/Port Neches Evening Optimist. It’s a dream come true. We’ve been working on it for about 12 years now.

“It’s something that’s special to me. I’ve been doing this about 21 years now, and my daughter participated in this, as well. It’s exciting for us, once you put a dream down, write it down on a piece of paper then it becomes a goal. We’ve achieved a goal.”

Though the turf infield is particularly beneficial for the athletes with disabilities at Adaptive Sports for Kids, it also provides a nice playing surface for Babe Ruth baseball, as the league also utilizes the grounds.

“It’s a win-win for both organizations that use this facility,” Nation said. “The city of Nederland graciously allowed us to use their facility over the years, and with the installation of this field, it opens up so many options.”

Most importantly, the athletes are over the moon about the new field. As they ran out of the tunnel, some jumped for joy, some flexed their muscles, but all were smiling.

“Playing on a field like this is really exciting for anyone, especially for our kids,” Nation said. “There’s really no rainouts. It’s cleaner, and it’s just a really nice facility and a really nice field. As you can tell from the turnout today, they’re really looking forward to it.”

In his final remarks, Nation made sure to give credit to the board of directors and other individuals who helped make the new field a reality.

“The support of my board of directors has been crucial in getting this facility to the level it’s at,” he said. “Babe Ruth has also been really important in doing a lot of the work around here, and Mr. Collins, Skippy Hopkins, and a few others have put their time and effort into getting this facility ready for today in particular.”

The new surface at Bob Harmon Park is a huge step forward for Adaptive Sports for Kids and the athletes they serve, and it will provide countless opportunities for special needs children and adults to enjoy sports and stay active.

Community members can go show their support every Saturday this spring at 3300 Park Drive in Nederland while all of A.S.K.’s teams play their season schedule.

Adaptive Sports for Kids can be reached on Facebook, 409-779-2228 or Adaptivesports4kids@yahoo.com.

— Written by Clayton Eaves