Opportunity league gearing up for inaugural season

Russell Harry was looking for a way to give back to the community.

As the co-commissioner of the Birmingham Metro Baseball League, Harry was looking for an organization to volunteer with when he came across the perfect solution – the Opportunity League.

The Opportunity League was established by Easter Seals of Birmingham in conjunction with the City of Pelham to provide an outlet for special-needs children ages 5-21 to play baseball.

“We just wanted to get involved,” Harry said. “And with (the BMBL) having 10 teams of at least 15 players per team, hopefully we’ll be able to provide many, many more volunteers.”

And although baseball has been a big part of his life, it is the lessons of baseball and just playing the game that excites Harry about this new volunteer effort.

“Baseball is such a great game, and even more so it is the camaraderie that makes it great,” Harry said. “It’s just about getting out there and being a kid.”

Registration for the league is Saturday, Jan. 16 from 1-3 p.m. at the Pelham Parks and Recreation office, and then again on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 1-3 p.m. at the Parks office.

Volunteers wishing to serve as a coach or a field buddy can register at the same times.

Buddies will be asked to volunteer for at least one game a month. Games will be played on Saturdays.

Both coaches and buddies will be subjected to a background check.

“Volunteers are going to be what makes this league,” said Kelli Keith, Easter Seals director of marketing and development. “Even if it is for one Saturday, once month, people are looking for a way to give back and this is a perfect way to help those in your community.”

The Opportunity League is open to all kids, regardless of where they live, and a scholarship program has been established to help those who cannot afford the registration fee.

The season will run for eight weeks from March 27 through Memorial Day, with one week off for Easter. Games will be played at the Fun Go Holler Park in Pelham.

For more information, visit EasterSealsBham.org/oppleague.html or PelhamOnline.com.