Arcadia High’s Head Baseball Coach, Matt Sugarman, wants his players to learn more than just how to excel at hitting, pitching and catching – he also wants them to grow to become caring and involved members of their community.
That’s why the team volunteers with a charity every season. This year, they partnered with Miracle League, a nonprofit dedicated to providing safe baseball experiences for those with disabilities.
Volunteer opportunities were slim during the past two years, as many charities were closed to in-person events. Food drives held by organizations like Feeding Students USA kept the team active while they strived to help the community in any way they could.
“The coach is all about giving back to our community and getting our players involved,” baseball mom Julie Lambert said. “My sons have all been part of the Camelback League Boys Team Charity, which works with Miracle League, and its director, Drew, is outstanding to work with.”
Lambert suggested to Coach Sugarman that the team could partner with Miracle League. Drew was all for it, and Sugarman now hopes to work with the League every fall.
“Miracle League allowed me to connect with kids and bond over the game we share a passion for,” senior varsity player Reilly Blake said. “Seeing everyone come together to make an amazing experience for them was something special. Seeing the kids smile after getting a hit and running the bases was the highlight of the morning.”
“I have a sister who is nonverbal and has special needs, so it felt good to have the opportunity to give back to families in similar situations. Just seeing the joy on the kids’ faces when we were cheering for them was amazing; it made me realize how truly blessed I am to be able to play on a team because some kids will never have that opportunity,” senior varsity teammate Quinn Palmer said.
The Arcadia team played three games with the Miracle League players. During the games, they worked with, supported and cheered the players on as needed, including assisting those in wheelchairs to have a fun and vibrant experience.
“My main takeaway from helping at the Miracle League is that those of us who do not face the daily challenges, like the participants, were fortunate enough to help them enjoy the day and play a game that, for many of us, is just an everyday event,” senior varsity player Jim Achen said. “I’m fortunate to play ball every day. I had a terrific time seeing the kids have a really fun time.”
The baseball team will continue to support the community with various food drives throughout the year, as they all believe in the importance and power of giving back to their neighbors.