Ro­mans look to make the team in ABO

Tay­lor Dun­can is work­ing to bring his Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball Or­ga­ni­za­tion to Floyd County.

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By Jonathan Blay­lock JBlay­[email protected]

Ev­ery­one should get a chance to play the sport they love, no mat­ter their cir­cum­stances.

That’s what Tay­lor Dun­can has been try­ing to pro­vide for peo­ple for the last three years. And he’s hop­ing to bring that at­ti­tude and an op­por­tu­nity to Rome.

Dun­can’s group, Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball Or­ga­ni­za­tion, is de­scribed as a judge­ment-free en­vi­ron­ment where play­ers with autism and other spe­cial needs can play with the full pas­sion they have for the game.

“Be­cause we give them that chance and we say ‘yes you can and yes you will’ in­stead of ‘no, you can’t,’ they’ve been able to grow in con­fi­dence,” Dun­can said. “Some have been able to find jobs, and some even want to get be­hind the wheel of a ve­hi­cle be­cause they know they can do it.”

Dun­can, who is autis­tic, first be­gan Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball with a team in Pow­der Springs in 2016 and it grew from there. He now lives in Hi­ram and serves as the com­mis­sioner of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The 23-year-old now wants to of­fer his brand of base­ball to Floyd County, and he’s al­ready had some in­ter­est in build­ing a pro­gram, but Dun­can is look­ing specif­i­cally for some­one to coach the team.

“Base­ball ex­pe­ri­ence is a huge plus, but any­one willing to help out,” Dun­can said. “Some­body who will help th­ese guys grow, not only phys­i­cally, but so­cially. We want to en­cour­age them to be the best they can be on, and off, the di­a­mond.”

The pro­gram, which is for male and fe­male ath­letes ages 15 and older, fol­lows Ma­jor League Base­ball rules. Wood bats are used and steal­ing bases is al­lowed. Also, the seven-in­ning games are play­er­pitched, so the teams get an au­then­tic base­ball ex­pe­ri­ence, while help­ing the play­ers de­velop needed phys­i­cal and so­cial skills.

Those in­ter­ested in play­ing, coach­ing, vol­un­teer­ing or do­nat­ing can visit the Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball web­site at www.al­ter­na­tive­base­ball.org.

Those who want to vol­un­teer for the Floyd County area can fill out a form on­line. Dun­can said Ro­mans can also vol­un­teer for other teams if they are willing to travel.

Dun­can, a life-long base­ball fan, said he wasn’t able to play the sport he loved in school be­cause of pre­con­cep­tions from coaches that didn’t feel he would be able to com­pete.

“I had al­ways been a huge fan of base­ball ever since I can re­mem­ber,” Dun­can said. “I learned as much as I could about the sport, but I wasn’t given an op­por­tu­nity to play. With those around me who have helped me, I’ve been able to get to where I am.”

While play­ing youth base­ball in Hi­ram, Dun­can found a coach that had con­fi­dence in him, and that’s the ex­pe­ri­ence he wants to give the play­ers in his or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“The coach took me un­der his wing,” Dun­can said. “I was much more con­fi­dent. Some days I’d have a great day, then some days I’d strike out twice. It’s about get­ting out there and en­joy­ing the game.”

Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball has been featured on CNN, ESPN’s Base­ball Tonight, NBC’s TO­DAY and many lo­cal af­fil­i­ate sta­tions across the coun­try and has pro­grams across Ge­or­gia, Ten­nessee, Alabama, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., South Carolina, Florida, Penn­syl­va­nia, Colorado and Ari­zona.

Dun­can said the ap­pear­ance on ESPN is when he knew just how needed the pro­gram was.

“That’s when it blew up,” Dun­can said. “That’s when we knew it was needed ev­ery­where. It’s work­ing well in other com­mu­ni­ties, and that’s what we want to do for the Rome area.”

Con­trib­uted

The Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball Or­ga­ni­za­tion al­lows play­ers with autism and other spe­cial needs to en­joy the game of base­ball while build­ing phys­i­cal and so­cial skills. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is has spread across the coun­try and is try­ing to form a team in Floyd County.

Con­trib­uted

Tay­lor Dun­can (right) bats dur­ing an Al­ter­na­tive Base­ball Or­ga­ni­za­tion game.

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