Every summer kids from across the county participate in summer league baseball, T-Ball and softball. At the New Albany Sportsplex, there is a special group that is not as widely known except by those involved.
The Top Notch T-Ball program for children with special needs has been a part of the Sportsplex for several years. Teaching equality for the children involved, volunteers work with the kids, as all feel strongly about giving these children the same advantage any other has.
“We don’t baby them,” Cindy Baker said. “We negotiate with them because we want them to have fun, but we want them to be able to do it. We all have the same goal, they can learn and we know they can. They’re children first and special needs second.”
Terry Ball has worked with both the Top Notch and Super Soccer programs not only as a volunteer, but as a parent of an autistic child.
“I love doing it, and I couldn’t think of doing anything else,” Ball said. “They mean the world to me, and I’ll help them until they quit doing it.”
Baker credits a lot of the success of the program to the numerous volunteers, including siblings and parents of the children, as well as workers at the Sportsplex. One in particular, Megan Allred, has worked with Top Notch for three years.
“I like playing with them,” Allred said. “They’re entertaining, hilarious, but you just have to get down and play with them. They need someone out there helping them, showing them what to do.”
Several local businesses have stepped up to help with the program, as Screenco provided the team’s shirts, while Murphy’s Oil gave a donation good for all-new equipment for the children.
With contributions from the community, the program continues to be a success, as this season comes to an end this week.
“My biggest goal, will be to have one or two of them to be able to play in the regular league,” Ball said. “I want to see them put on the uniform and cleats and hit a hard ball just like the average kids.”
Teaching equality, the Top Notch staff hopes to one day see that dream become a reality.