Murrysville, Pa. – The Westmoreland County Community Baseball program recently took a little time from their fall practice schedule to give back to the community, as the Wolfpack volunteered at the Miracle League of Western Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 21st.
The Miracle League of Western PA was formed in 2005 with the goal of providing a field and league structure so that individuals of all ages with special needs could play organized baseball. After more than seven years and much effort, Opening Day for the Miracle League of Western PA was in September, 2012. A Miracle League field is a specially equipped synthetic turf surface field where people of special needs have the chance to experience the joy of America's favorite past time (and other sports). The field is specially-equipped for the players and incorporates a cushion synthetic turf which allows wheelchairs and walkers to glide unrestricted.
Long-time head coach Mike Draghi, newly-hired assistant coach Matt Hogue and 17 Westmoreland student-athletes made the short trip from Youngwood to Murrysville to help with the first two games Saturday. The Wolfpack student-athletes had a chance to help the Miracle League athletes through the games and buddy up with the players through the day, using the sport of baseball to bond together.
"The opportunity arose because of my ties to the Franklin Regional School District," said Draghi, who in addition to teaching Physical Education in the district has also been the head baseball coach at Westmoreland since the program's inception in 1993. "Over the years, I've had an opportunity to meet and work with many of the children and parents who are involved with the Miracle League and have wanted to bring our program to the field to spend the day for a while.
"It is very important for us to give back in our community," said Draghi. "We were able to use baseball as a common interest to connect our players at Westmoreland with the players in The Miracle League. We are truly appreciative of the opportunity The Miracle League provided us to spend the day with the players in their organization!"
The Wolfpack players made quite the impression on the Miracle League teams, which featured games between the Reds and Rockies in the opening game of the day and a match-up between the Angels and Pirates in the second. The day was filled with some hits, some great catches, a few runs scored, but most importantly, a lot of fun and smiles and lasting memories that everyone took home after the final run scored.
"Our Miracle League Baseball players reached new heights in their enjoyment of the game when the Wolfpack Baseball Team joined them on the Bill Mazeroski Field in Murrysville Saturday," said Rev. Harold Hicks, President of the Miracle League of Western Pa. "Some of the players hoped that the Wolfpack would never leave and I believe that many of the Wolfpack players never wanted to leave. Each of our players feel like they are superstars thanks to a great group of young men and coaches. One of the Wolfpack commented that he would love to wear the number of the player that he buddied with on his team uniform. We cannot wait to have (the Wolfpack) back again. You are part of our family forever."