A member of the Hartselle Shining Stars softball program eyes the pitch during their softball league this past fall at the Hartselle softball fields.

Shining stars

Hartselle hosts athletes with special needs

Lauren Estes-Velez

Hartselle Enquirer

In 2017 the Hartselle Parks and Recreation Department hosted the Shining Stars Special Needs Softball League. The department has decided to continue the program in 2018 with a basketball league.

Parks and Recreations Director Tom Chappell said the six-week league will start Feb. 8. Teams will play Thursday nights at 5:30 p.m.

“This league will play in the back gym at the civic center on 8-foot goals in a three-on-three format instead of five on five,” Chappell said. “They will also be half-court games. Some athletes will be a little better at ball handling, and that way, this will give everyone the opportunity to play a little more.

“It will be all about having fun with lax rules – much like the softball league.”

Chappell said referees will help with the games, but the calls will not be strictly made.

“This is another opportunity for people to have fun and get some exercise,” Chappell said. “We won’t be keeping score, so this isn’t about being competitive – even though some of the athletes will be competitive enough to know if their team is winning or losing. It’s more about including everyone who wants to play in this league and allowing them all to have some fun.”

The league is free for athletes, who may have a variety of special needs, and the Parks and Recreation department will provide participants with a jersey with their name on it, snacks after each game and trophies to all participants to the end of the season, which will wrap up with a cookout for everyone in the league.

“We currently have 31 players who have signed up, and we are looking to have six teams at six people per team,” Chappell said. “We’re looking for some local businesses to sponsor teams, which will pay for jerseys and trophies. For the softball season, the local sponsors really seemed to enjoy it. They get as much out of it as the athletes.”

Chappell said the department is also looking for volunteers to help and will need someone for each team. There is a $15 charge for volunteers, which will pay for their shirts they will wear to the games.

“We want to have similar rules so we will be able to have a tournament with other leagues,” Chappell said. “This is our first season, and hopefully it will be successful enough that we will be able to have it year to year.

“Anyone with special needs ages 8 and older can sign up as a player until Jan. 19,” Chappell said. “We will accept volunteer sign-ups until the league starts.”

 

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