March 17, 2011
Baseball and bowling
By David Boyce
During the winter months of the spring semester it was very easy to find many of Northwest Missouri State's baseball players on Tuesday and Friday evenings.
They were at Bearcat Lanes doing a good deed, not because they had to. They wanted to be there, putting smiles on the faces of children who face challenges with exuberance.
The baseball players bowl, talk and have a good time hanging out with the Special Olympics bowlers.
"We've had as many as 20-plus on any given day, depending on guys' schedule. We try to get as many people out there," said Northwest first baseman Geno DeAngelis. "The Special Olympics bowlers enjoy it. We take pride in trying to get as many people out there as possible."
It started this semester as a class assignment and became something much more than fulfilling a requirement for a grade for DeAngelis.
"I had to get a couple of hours for Intro to Special Ed class," DeAngelis said. "From there and meeting people involved, I thought it was a good idea to get our team out there."
Some of the players showed up wearing Northwest baseball caps and T-Shirts. The players found out the bowlers were interested in them.
"They have a lot of the same interests," DeAngelis said. "A lot of the bowlers have interest in baseball and especially Bearcat Athletics."
A bond was forged. Everybody benefitted.
"For my experience of going there and wearing my baseball stuff and talking with them we put a smile on their face and make their day a little better," DeAngelis said. "It's worthwhile for me and my teammates.
"Doing stuff off the field is always a plus for the team. Doing things that is good for the community and good for other people always makes it worthwhile and brings us closer."
It's easy for the players to see that the small amount of time they invest in helping others is rewarding.
They occasionally see one of the Special Olympics Bowlers when they are around town.
"You are making new friends when you are out there bowling," DeAngelis said. "You see them around town and they recognize you and you recognize them and have that relationship outside of bowling. It's a good feeling to make other people happy whether it is Special Olympics bowlers or another classmate."
DeAngelis is majoring in Physical Education and one day plans to be a PE teacher and coach. His experience this semester will have a lasting effect.
"Once I end up coaching, I'm going to promote doing things in the community like we are doing," he said. "It is important to me."
DeAngelis is already proving it by doing a good deed in the Maryville community. He's from Los Alamitos, Calif., and played two seasons at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Playing baseball in colder weather didn't scare DeAngelis away.
"I came out and had a visit and found out the people in Maryville are real nice," he said. "I actually like the change-up in scenery. It's less crowded and less traffic from what I'm used to it. It's real laid back. I enjoyed the team and coaches. It's a good fit for me."
Despite a slow start by the Bearcats, DeAngelis is confident the team is on the verge of a turnaround. Northwest is very close to winning games. Its last three losses have all been by a run.
"We are making a lot of big strides," DeAngelis said. "We are just not putting it all together. We are getting into the swing of things. We will put it all together and I'm sure we will start to soar."
Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, the baseball players at Northwest will always be winners in the eyes of some special bowlers at Bearcat Lanes.
David Boyce spent more than 20 years covering high school and small college athletics at the Kansas City Star newspaper in Missouri. He's covered six of Northwest Missouri State's seven national championship football games and recently served as a guest columnist for the MIAA.
Boyce was named KIAAA Sportswriter of the Year in 1994. He covered boxing at the Star from 1991-2004 including Tommy Morrison and worked both championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. His 1997 exclusive story on Morrison becoming HIV positive was named an Associated Press Sports Editor top 10 feature for papers serving more than 150,000.
Boyce was born in New York City and was raised in Kansas City, Kan. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1988 with a degree in journalism. He is currently one of three official scorers for the Kansas City Royals and is a contributing writer for the Royals Gameday magazine.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
email@example.com | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468