You don’t know when a valuable lesson in life will present itself. You may not know the full extent of that lesson until later on, but one thing is certain at Kempsville High School, the baseball team went to bat for Maddy Beardsley and hit it out of the park.
Maddy is a 16-year-old sophomore and she has cerebral palsy. Maddy needs a wheelchair to get around. She loves sports. The Norfolk Tides are her favorite, but the baseball team at Kempsville is a close second.
Maddy is the team’s manager and good luck charm. “Baseball to me is so much fun, even though I cant do it, I’m just glad I can be here with them. I feel like a member of the team. They are like my brothers. They understand me. It just makes me feel good,” said Maddy.
But one day last fall, the players noticed Maddy stopped coming to their games. Jordan Rodriguez eats lunch with Maddy, but even he was surprised Maddy stopped coming out. “We thought Maddy didn’t care about us anymore, but we found out she was unable to come out here,” said Rodriguez.
Recent rain had made it impossible for Maddy to get her wheelchair from the parking lot to the dugout. “When I could not come out here because of the rainy days, it made me sad and mad because I could not see my friends because this is what I like to do,” said Maddy.
That was when the team went to bat for Maddy. Through the American Disability Act and lots of help from the Virginia Beach Public School system, a walkway was put in so Maddy could join her team. “When my friends put this in for me I was shocked, grateful. Not being able to come out here took half my life away because these guys mean so much to me,” said Maddy.
This was the teaching moment. A team of able body athletes understanding and coming to the defense of a teammate who simply could not get access to the field. Student activity coordinator Tim Wolf knows that Kempsville is an older school and access can be limited. “I think it helps our entire student body. We are in a society of diversity and everybody has rights. One of our students could not get to the field because it was wet. Maddy works hard in school and loves baseball,” added Wolf.
Chiefs head baseball coach Travis Sutton knows that this kind act for Maddy has brought his team closer together and in the process taught them a valuable life lesson that they will appreciate as time goes on. “Yes baseball is important. We want to win a lot of games, but this is more about life and giving back to the community and Maddy is a big part of that,” said Sutton.
And that’s a lesson that these players will remember and appreciate for years to come.