MONROE — Alternative Baseball Organization (ABO) is looking for a volunteer coach/manager, volunteers, and players to start a program in the area — post COVID19.
ABO is a charitable organization that provides young adults (ages 15 and older) with autism and other disabilities an authentic sports experience as well as teaching applicable lessons for life off the diamond.
The 501c3 nonprofit organization was founded in 2016 by Taylor Duncan, 24, of Dallas, Georgia. In an email to the Enquirer-Journal, he explained that as a kid he had speech and anxiety issues as a result of living with autism.
“I wasn’t able to participate in competitive sports due to the developmental delays, in addition to social stigma (preconceived ideas) from those who think what one with autism can and cannot accomplish. With the help of my mom, teachers, mentors, and coaches who believed in me, I’ve gotten to where I am today in my life: To live with the goal to inspire, raise awareness, and acceptance for autism and special needs globally through the sport of baseball,” he wrote.
He wrote further that there aren’t many services for young adults like himself to achieve independence after graduating from high school. “Realizing a lack of general incentive and opportunities for those on the spectrum, I started this organization to give others on the spectrum/special needs the opportunity to be accepted for who they are and to be encouraged to be the best they can be,” Duncan wrote.
ABO follows Major League Baseball rules by using wooden bats, permitting base stealing and dropping third strike among other things. Team members play independently, or in other words, without “buddies.”
“Each of Alternative Baseball’s games are 7-9 innings. (If tied, games go to extra innings.) The players pitch in Alternative Baseball. Each player (when hitting) is pitched a ball either overhand or underhand based on their individual skill level. The only adaptation is “the type of ball itself,” per ABO’s website. “Typically, ABO meets for practices/games once a week for approximately 1.5 hours. The schedule, dates, time, and location are determined by each Manager.”
Duncan described it as a “true typical team experience for others on the autism spectrum and special needs to help develop social skills for later in life.”
Players of all skill levels are encouraged to join whether needing slow pitch or off the tee. They only need to bring a fielding glove and water bottle to practice. Personal bats and helmets are optional, according to ABO’s website.
ABO’s Carolina programs span Spartanburg, Charleston, Winston-Salem, High Point, Mount Airy, Gastonia, Mooresville, and Fayetteville. It also has clubs in Greater Atlanta, Greater Huntsville, Chattanooga, Jersey City, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Ormond Beach, Macon (GA), and the Chattahoochee Valley (Columbus, GA/Phenix City, AL/Auburn, AL).