Softball players buddy up


Photo provided by: Makayla Martindale

Assisting kids with special needs in America’s favorite pastime is a way that Reagan Sienkiewicz, a junior on the Varsity Softball team, and many of her teammates give back to the community. The Bambino Buddy Ball league provides the kids with an outlet to meet new people and teaches important social skills. “The most surprising aspect I have experienced is that I can have a big impact on the kids I help out,” Sienkiewicz said. “It might not seem like much, but I know it means the world to the kids and their parents.”

Makayla Martindale, Journalism 1 Reporter

In order to ensure that all people have equal opportunities in sports, local groups offer a hand by volunteering for Bambino Buddy Ball, a free program at Eastmonte Park designed to help people ages 5-20 with special needs. The varsity softball team often volunteers during the spring season as “buddies” for the players, assisting them with hitting, fielding, throwing, and moving around the bases.

“I had a kid that had autism, I think he was like six, and he hit the ball and was running around the bases and when he got home, he was so happy and he like jumped into my arms,” freshman Hope Shenk said. “It was just a good feeling.”

With the help of their buddies, the kids involved with the program are given the chance to achieve their dreams of putting on their baseball helmet and stepping up to the batter’s box to be a part of the action instead of watching from the sidelines. Reagan Sienkiewicz, a junior on the varsity softball team, volunteers with the league because of her own personal connection to Buddy Ball.

“I participate in Buddy Ball because of my sister Annalisa, she has Down syndrome,” Sienkiewicz said. “She doesn’t play anymore, but I loved going to her games and helping other kids. My favorite experience in the program is seeing the great big smiles on the kids faces and the pure happiness they express.”

As a volunteer, the joy shown by the kids is often times considered one of the most rewarding aspects of the game. The volunteers learn many life lessons they will never forget.

“I learned many things from the kids,” freshman Hannah Williams said. “One thing that really stuck out to me though was that they were so excited just to pick up the ball and just talk to me. These kids always have a smile on their faces when they are playing.”

Because of the amount of time spent helping the kids, the players and volunteers build strong bonds throughout the duration of the season. Participating as a volunteer for Buddy Ball has a significant impact on each of the athletes on the field, in addition to the volunteers themselves.

“This program has changed my life by giving me a new perspective, like being grateful for my abilities, even the little things,” Sienkiewicz said. “These kids have taught me that no matter the situation or what life throws at you, you can always find happiness somewhere.”