This rubberized playing field, which offers a smooth and safe surface for players with mental and/or physical special needs, is set to be finished in May 2019. It will be the first of its kind in Northeast Tennessee.
The project is sponsored by dozens of organizations and businesses, who were united under one common goal: helping the region’s special needs individuals “step up to the plate.”
IT’S MORE THAN A GAME
“Honestly, the support has been nothing short of amazing, but not unexpected when you consider which regional partners were the first to come to the table,” said Visit Kingsport Executive Director Jud Teague. “This just would not have been possible without these partners recognizing that this is more than a game. It’s about self-esteem, making new friends and being treated like any other athlete.”
Teague, a former high school baseball coach, has worked tirelessly to bring the Miracle League to Kingsport. His 10-year-old son Nicholas is one of the area kids who will benefit from the field. Nicholas, who has Down Syndrome, loves baseball and can’t wait to step up to bat.
“There aren’t any Miracle League Fields around here where Nic can get out there and really play, so he’s my motivation for doing this. I just want him, and other kids, to have a place where they can have fun and enjoy the game,” Teague explained.
Eastman Senior Vice President David Golden agreed, saying that the field will inspire unity between special needs and able-bodied baseball fans alike.
“Miracles that occur on and off a field as participants and spectators enjoy a chance to tuck challenges away for an hour, to get know each other a little better — and just play,” Golden said.
The Miracle League is free, noncompetitive and accessible. Special needs players have the chance to build self-esteem and have fun, and they are assisted by able-bodied peers.
The Miracle Field Complex will include an all-accessible playground, a pavilion and a concessions stand. It will be the fifth field at Brickyard Park, which draws players and their families from all across the region.
Sponsors and officials are looking forward to the field’s completion, as it will benefit special needs individuals and their families across the region.
“Ultimately, we expect to serve several thousand children and young adults in Northeast Tennessee with special needs,” Teague said.