By Dylan Stovall, Staff Writer
The LIU Post Baseball and Cheerleading team spearheaded community spirit by hosting their inaugural League of Yes event on Oct. 8th at the Pratt Center. The League of Yes provides opportunities to individuals of all ages with disabilities to experience the joy of playing baseball while also helping to build the player’s self-esteem and sense of camaraderie
The day was filled with lots of joy and laughter as each player joined this non-competitive game for the chance to hit the ball and race around the bases and through the “Tunnel of Love” before sliding into home. Each inning, the “Tunnel of Love” was filled with uplifting sentiments as parents and cheerleaders on the third base line encouraged the players during their home runs.
Pitcher and senior communications major Dominic Pieto shared some of the fun his team had with the new players.
“We showed up at 9 A.M. and ten or eleven kids came and buddied up with the members of the team. We played catch then let them hit a game-like situation where they got to run the bases after a couple of swings. It was a really cool experience.”
Pieto loves events like this because of the bonds that they build between the team itself and the new players.
“One kid pointed me out and said he wanted to throw with me. We kept calling each other Spider-man and the Flash because we were moving to the ball so fast.” Pieto recalled.
The LIU Baseball team is consistently working to better our Long Island community but they had never worked with The League of Yes Organization before this specific event.
Bentley Boekhout, first baseman for the Sharks pursuing a master’s in business, took on the mantle of setting up the event for the team.
“I reached out to the Founder and Executive Director, Kristine Fitzpatrick, and gave her the idea of what we want to do and she loved it. We took it and we ran.”
Boekhout has had a passion for giving back to his local towns and the disabled community since high school.
“One of the events was canceled in my hometown. It just really hit me that these kids do not get that many opportunities. I kind of took it in my own hands in high school and hosted a special needs basketball event for the kids who were at my high school. It was just a great turnout and a big day for those kids. Since then, I realized the impact that you can have on such a great community that deserves that recognition.”
With Head Coach Dan Pirillo and the rest of the Sharks behind him, Boekhout was ready to face whatever problems that may arise on the day of the event.
“The day of, it got rained out and we had to go inside so it was a tough process. It was awesome to see my teammates stick by my side. My coach helped me get the event going and seeing the cheerleaders there was great to have them intacting as well. Not everyone meets special needs kids on a day-to-day basis. To see everyone open up and really embrace the event and buddy up with the kids made it so awesome to see all the smiles and hugs.”
Although Boekhout will be leaving the baseball team after this next season, he found it important to set up collaborative events like this that push the team further into building lifelong connections.
“This is my last year but I am happy. My goal was to build the foundation to see it grow. After the event, their leaders and organizers came up to me and the coaches and thought it would be a great idea to get them involved in the spring. I just want to see it grow. I know it is a baseball event but seeing other teams on campus and people get involved with the community is how LIU grows. Whether LIU grows or not it’s just great to give back at the end of the day.”