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Feb, 2022

Visalia's Miracle League hosts 'Draft Day' for its 2022 athletes and families

Visalia's Miracle League hosts 'Draft Day' for its 2022 athletes and families

Visalia Times Delta
By: Lauren Jennings
Feb 15, 2022

Hundreds of bright, smiling faces lined up early this weekend to take part in the Miracle League of Visalia's Draft Day.  Athletes picked up fresh T-shirts and had the ability to take the field to throw baseballs back and forth with each other, while some took a few victory laps around the bases to celebrate the occasion.  "We ended up registering 16 new players at the event, and probably had around 100 people come through while we were there," said Jennifer Reynolds, league coordinator for Visalia's Miracle League. "It was definitely more than I envisioned – a great problem to have." 

Before the 2020 season was shut down, Miracle League had over 200 players signed up, the largest number of participants ever.  Reynolds, the former general manager for Visalia Rawhide, said she has big plans for this season.  To make sure this year is special for athletes, there will be theme game nights including a Disney day, first responder day and Kentucky Derby day.  There will also be food truck Friday Night games, one in April and another in May, where players and families can experience a game under the lights – while grabbing dinner and supporting a local business.

Players meet each Saturday, where athletes are teamed up with others around the same age, or those with a similar disability. Players are also paired up with "Guardian Angel," a volunteer who plays alongside athletes throughout the game.  Players have a few more chances to participate in draft day before the start of the 2022 season, scheduled for March 25.The next draft is scheduled at 10 a.m. on Feb. 19 at Stafford’s Chocolates (114 North Main Street Porterville). The league’s final draft is at 10 a.m. on Feb. 26 at the United Cerebral Palsy of Central CA (606 West 6th Street, Hanford).For those interested in registering for the 2022 Miracle League season, create a profile for yourself or your player to start.  Registration for children and adults ages 3 and up with developmental disabilities is $60 and ends the first week of March. Registration includes a T-shirt.

The Miracle League of Visalia was started in 2003 by Visalia residents Gary and Jennifer Geiger after Gary watched HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" segment on the original Miracle League in Georgia.  The Geiger's own several Burger King restaurants in the area. The field was unveiled to the league’s first 90 players, who ranged in age from 3 to 59 years old.

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