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The City Journals

Cheers and Smiles Abound at the Miracle League in West Jordan

May 05, 2016 04:50PM ● By Greg James

By Greg James  [email protected]

West Jordan - With a tight grip on the handle of the bat Hunter Swindell from Eagle Mountain has taken his place in the batter’s box of the West Jordan based Miracle League. His swing and contact of the rubber baseball bring the park to life. “Go, go, you did it” can be heard as cheers erupt.

It is hard to tell who is more excited the players or the fans on Saturday mornings behind Gene Fullmer Recreation Center. The Miracle League opened its season on April 9. The league is an adaptive based baseball program for individuals ages 3-22 with mental and physical disabilities.

“This is our first year in the program. I love it, it gives my son (Hunter) an opportunity to learn something and be involved. It also gives him some exercise,” Eagle Mountain resident Tyler Swindell said.

By Greg James  [email protected]

Fans line the stands and grass around the field. Inside the fences the teams and several volunteers line the field of play. Several high school and little league teams volunteer to support the teams as  the county staff runs the games.

“I think Copper Hills baseball was one of the first teams to come out and help. Now we have Tooele, Riverton and little league teams that  line up to help. It means alot to everyone. It is remarkable to see when these kids put on the uniform and hat what it can mean to them. It is all about these kids,” the Cardinals team coach Glenn Fitzpatrick said.

The volunteers pitch, help gather up the baseballs, push players around the diamond and offer support. The 11 and under Utah Blues coach Aaron Whitaker said it teaches his players that there is more to life than playing baseball.

“It is a huge boost to these kids happiness level. Sometimes it is just organized chaos, but we want these kids to feel like superstars,” field announcer Elan Ollf said.

Ollf plays entertaining music and announces each hitter as they come to plate. Often times giving play by play of monstrous home runs or amazing  outfield plays. He helps each player imagine his name in lights with highlight reel plays that make the local news sports reports.

The rubber based softball diamond was funded by the West Jordan Rotary and opened in 2009. The specially designed field is required for players in wheelchairs to be able to maneuver the bases. The players hit the ball and run the bases. No one is ever recorded as out and everyone scores. 

The Salt Lake County Recreation runs the program Saturdays April 9 - May 21. This season 12 teams of approximately 10 players each make up the league. The major division is available for players that may have more baseball skills. 

The Rotary Club served hot dogs, chips and drinks to the players and parents of all the teams on opening day. 

Every player and volunteer was greeted with smiles handshakes and high fives at the completion of every game. No one knew the final score or even seemed to care. The only thing heard over the cheering was, “when do we play again?”