Bruce Froendt, the founder of the AllPlay Miracle Baseball League, works year-round to prepare for 14 weeks of play each summer at Seymour Smith Park’s AllPlay Sports Complex.
This year, 350 athletes — children, young adults and adults with special needs — have registered to play on teams at the park at 72nd and Harrison Streets.
But one major component is still missing: coaches and volunteers.
Froendt is looking for one or two more coaches and many more game-day volunteers to make this season possible. The league has 26 teams across two age divisions (3-11 and 12 and older) that play games each Saturday from May 6 through June 24.
Volunteer coach Tony Bisignano has been involved with AllPlay since it began in 2009. Bisignano was searching for a baseball league for his son, Ryan, and found the perfect match in AllPlay. He said their time with the organization has been an “invaluable experience.”
Bisignano volunteered to coach a team in his first year and now oversees two teams and 29 athletes. The players on his teams have been together from the start, and Bisignano spends game days with Ryan, a third baseman on the senior Cardinals team.
When the season ends, Bisignano said, he misses seeing the joy on his players’ faces. The first few weeks away from the field leave a void that can’t be filled — even by Nebraska football, he said with a laugh.
Besides coaches, more than 100 volunteers are needed to make each day of games possible. Volunteers help in two-hour time slots and can help for just one day or for the whole season.
They might push a wheelchair, help a player bat and run the bases or assist a player in their field position. Froendt said he aims to have volunteer buddies do as little as they can to make sure players can do as much as possible.
Froendt encourages volunteering in groups, such as softball and baseball teams, church groups and high school clubs. Individual volunteers also are welcome.
Jozef Schmidtke has volunteered with the league for the past five years and said the players’ joy is what keeps him coming back. Schmidtke also serves as a liaison between the Miracle League and Kiwanis clubs in the area to organize volunteers for game days.
Froendt said volunteers have as much if not more fun than the athletes do. Amy Stoddard, game day director for the organization, agreed.
“There’s just something infectious about it. Once you get down there, you get hooked. Everyone wants to have a great time.”
For more information or to register as a volunteer, visit allplay.org.