But to the players of LaFayette’s No Limits League, it’s baseball. And to the players, parents, volunteers and even the opponents, it’s pure fun.
Pam Rasmussen helped organize the league for mentally and physically-challenged players in the spring of 2009.
Her wheelchair-bound son, Chris, had participated in sports for several years, but she said the 60-to-90 minute drives the family was making to Rome and Hixson, Tenn. for him to be able to play, were starting to get a little tedious.
“I kept asking myself, ‘why do we need to drive an hour or more to let him play when we could do something here’,” she said. “Once we determined that we had enough interest around here, we wanted to start our own group.”
Rasmussen joined forces with Michal Jones, the Parent Mentor for the Walker County School System about starting a local league. From there, they met with Patti Scott of the LaFayette Parks and Recreation Department.
“We told Patti what we needed and it just took off from there,” Rasmussen added. “Patti and the rec center have just been wonderful. She has been a big help for us with things like putting together schedules, ordering uniforms and supplying equipment.”
This year, No Limits has two separate leagues — a Fun League and an Advanced League.
“We don’t keep score in the Fun League,” Rasmussen explained. “It’s open to everyone, regardless of age or ability. We provide the players as much or as little help as they need. There are a few more on the field than a normal baseball game, but like the name says, it’s all for fun.
“Our Advanced League is for players up to age 21. It’s for kids who know and understand the game and its rules a little more. They can get around the bases by themselves, they play positions, and some players actually play in both leagues.”
Rasmussen said the league is available at little or no cost to players and their families.
She added that while the younger kids enjoy playing, the older players get a kick out of it just as much, if not more.
“The older folks didn’t have an opportunity to play like this when they were younger, so they really enjoy it," she said. "It’s just great to see them out here joining in with everyone else. It makes your heart feel good to see everyone included. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”
While the No Limits teams play against each other, they also have gone up against teams made up of local teachers, firefighters, and sheriff’s department workers, as well as other youth baseball teams who love to get in on the fun.
The league also gets help from middle and high school students, who assist the players during the games.
Jones says the students benefit greatly by volunteering.
“It’s good for them to have that experience of working alongside special needs students and other adults with disabilities,” she said. “They are going to be our business leaders and lawmakers in the future, and they need to know that these people with disabilities have value and worth and something to give back to the community.”
Jones also says the league gives the players an opportunity to make friends with others who face similar challenges, and provides a support system for the parents.
“They get a chance to talk and socialize during games and practices, and discuss issues they all face,” she added. “Maybe one family is facing something that another family has been through before and they can get some information and help from them. It’s really beneficial to everyone.
“Plus, there’s just no greater pleasure than to help a person that’s been isolated to fit in. As the Parent Mentor, it helps me get to know the families and develop a level of trust with them so I can assist them in other areas down the road.”
No Limits, which is sponsored by Gann Aviation and Wendy’s of LaFayette, also provides an indoor soccer league in the fall and basketball in the winter, as well as other activities during the summer months.
For more information about the league, call Rasmussen at (706) 638-0337 or Jones at (706) 866-9778 between the hours of 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday.