One local organization gives area residents with visual impairments the chance to participate in the national pastime: baseball.
Roger and Kim Keegan founded Athens Inclusive Recreation and Sports (AIRS) in 2011. Roger focuses on the AIRS beep baseball program, which is set to begin their season next month.
“I started playing beep baseball as an undergraduate student at Arizona State,” Roger said. “The most interesting thing to me was how the sport changed those who played. They could start out as very limited individuals, and by the end of the season, they would show improved self-confidence and become more independent people.”
Having inclusive sports gives everyone the chance to experience the personal growth that Roger mentions.
“The game is a lot more about the people and their gains than it is about the sport itself,” said Roger.
Beep baseball uses modified softballs and bases that beep in order to allow players to locate them. All players except the pitcher and the catcher wear blindfolds during the game. When a batter hits the ball, they have to run and tag the beeping base. If a fielder picks up the ball first, the batter is out.
Timberwolves’ players like John Still know the value of the program.
“Due to my visual impairments, I never was permitted to play team sports,” said Still, who has played with the Timberwolves since 2014. “Being a part of the team has given me a feeling of accomplishment and has boosted my spirit.”
The Athens Timberwolves’ season runs from March to August.
Wyatt Nail is a senior at UGA majoring in journalism and minoring in sports management.