Hayden Harding has always loved sports.
The 7-year-old Joplin boy has grown up in a sports-loving family. His father, Matt Harding, spent several years coaching football at Joplin High School before turning to administration. Matt is now an assistant principal at JHS, but Hayden’s love of sports hasn’t abated. Now, thanks to the Joplin Miracle League, Hayden will soon, for the first time, get a chance to play himself.
The Miracle League of Joplin was formed to allow people ages 5 to 20 to play baseball. The league’s spring session begins April 27 and will run six weeks. All of the league games will be played at the newly dedicated Will Norton Field at the Joplin Athletic Complex. Will was a Joplin High School student who was killed in the 2011 tornado.
Hayden’s mother, Janel Harding, is a member of the Miracle League’s board of directors. Because Hayden has cerebral palsy and autism and is nonverbal, Janel said she can’t say for sure what the Miracle League means to her son. But she knows Hayden loves sports, and she is sure he will be thrilled with the chance to finally play baseball.
“He has been sitting in the bleachers at football, basketball and baseball games since he was a child,” she said. “He loves sports. Just let him run around on the field and you’ll see the joy in his face. Sports have always been a part of his life, and he has such a passion for it.”
A couple of weeks ago, the Miracle League began signing up players for the spring baseball season. Janel said that as of Friday, 16 players had been signed up to play. The league can function with only 16 players, she said, but the low number is a bit of a disappointment. Registration for the Miracle League runs until March 25, and Janel said the board wants to make sure as many children as possible get a chance to participate.
“I’m a little worried that parents don’t know about this (the league),” she said. “We don’t want, after registration is over, for parents to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know about that.’”
Janel said it’s important for parents or guardians of children with disabilities to understand that all kids are welcome to participate in the Miracle League. If you have been reluctant to sign your child up for a more mainstream sports league, then the Miracle League might be for you.
“The sky is the limit,” Janel said. “We don’t think it’s fair to define exactly what is a disability or what is not.”
Since most people with disabilities spend their entire lives dealing with labels or definitions that, intentionally or not, ultimately work to undermine the potential, the last thing Miracle League organizers wanted was to get into the labeling business.
Miracle League baseball games will be played on Saturday mornings, and there are no practices. The cost to take part in the Miracle League is $50; there are limited scholarship opportunities.
For more information about the Miracle League and to register online, you may visit the league’s website at joplinmiracleleague.org.
The registration fee covers the cost of insurance, a league T-shirt and a baseball cap. Every participant is asked to bring his or her own glove.
As a parent of a child with special needs, Janel is a bit concerned about the $50 registration fee. It’s necessary, of course, to allow the league to function, but in a perfect world, it wouldn’t have to be. I asked Janel if I could sort of encourage folks out there, who can, to maybe chip in and sponsor a child.
“Oh, that would be great,” she said.
If you, your business or civic organization would like to help out, you can find a link for sponsorship information on the Miracle League website. If you happen to have any slightly used baseball gloves lying around, Janel said the league would be glad to take them off your hands.
Look, all any kid wants really is to be given a chance to play, and the Joplin Miracle League is giving area kids that chance.
I think that’s something.
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.
Hayden Harding has always loved sports.
- Local News
Carthage early childhood center gains additional donor support
Another set of names will be added to the new early childhood center to serve students in the Carthage School District. District officials announced Monday that the playground at the new center will be named the Hough Elliff Pound Playground in honor of Helen-Louise (Hough) Elliff.
MSSU board OKs job descriptionfor president
A subgroup of the Board of Governors of Missouri Southern State University on Tuesday approved a formal job description for the president, much of which will be used to advertise for the position as early as this week.
Long, cold winter could prompt more disconnects this spring
Vett Spain, of Joplin, uses both electricity and natural gas to heat her home during the winter. During extremely cold winter months — and this winter has been among the coldest for the area — it can cost her almost $500 a month to heat her home.
College Heights students serve Joplin area during Missions Week
Though the children around her were bouncing off the walls Tuesday to release some of their pent-up energy after a long day at school, Abbi Hardy knew she was in the right place for her service project this week. “It’s fun just because they have so much energy, and it makes me have energy as well,” said Hardy, a sophomore at College Heights Christian School. “They’re sweet kids.”
Joplin sales tax committee to rank project list
Joplin’s Public Works Department has suggested 43 street and bridge projects for a residents’ panel to rank for funding, contingent upon renewal of the city’s capital improvements sales tax.
Former Joplin city manager says Texas hiring ‘bittersweet’
Mark Rohr had mixed feelings Tuesday night when the City Council of League City, Texas, approved a final contract naming him as city manager. “It is a bittersweet moment for me,” Rohr said by telephone.
Transmission line opponents rally in Arkansas as Missouri lawmakers hear from SWEPCO
On Tuesday, about 50 opponents of a large transmission line proposed for construction in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas rallied in Rogers, Ark., during the 40th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
MSSU board meets today in open session
The Board of Governors executive committee at Missouri Southern State University will meet at 2:30 p.m. today.
Missouri man accused of exploiting teen in Georgia
A Vernon County man is being held on charges that he talked a 16-year-old girl from Georgia into sending him pornographic images of herself and solicited men to have sex with her. Curt L. Bowman, 42, was arrested Friday at his home near Nevada based on information developed by investigators with the Cobb County Police Department in the Atlanta area.
Joplin assistant superintendent position to go unfilled
The recently vacated assistant superintendent position with the Joplin School District will not be filled. That decision is natural now that the district is returning to a more normal operating state nearly three years after the May 2011 tornado damaged or destroyed 10 of its buildings, Superintendent C.J. Huff told the Globe when asked for an update on the vacancy.
- More Local News Headlines
- Carthage early childhood center gains additional donor support