Miracle League Basketball – an article by Easton Turnage
Growing up in the first few years of my life, my family and I were always a “party of four”. It was just my mom, my dad, my older brother, and me. From a young age, I always desired to have a younger brother.
When the time came that my parents told me that I would be getting one I was thrilled! Finally, I would have someone new to look after, play with, and even care for. A “family of five” would become our new reality.
On April 10, 2004, Cooper Turnage was born. During the first few years of his life Cooper was a very curious baby. He would crawl around the house doing whatever his little heart desired. It was like he was in his own world. We started to realize that Cooper wasn’t like most kids his age, but often liked to think that he would just “grow out of it”. He had a difficult time keeping eye contact and would get very easily distracted no matter what we tried. Family pictures were always a hoot.
We never would have imagined that these small things would carry on once he started going to school, but we soon realized that those small things started to increase in numbers.
In subjects such as math and reading he quickly fell behind, but in science and history he often outperformed his fellow classmates. This is when we realized that Cooper had some learning disabilities. ADHD and Dyslexia were both terms we were introduced to early on.
We knew that him learning would look a lot different than how other kids learned, but we were willing to do whatever it took to ensure that Cooper felt welcome wherever he was at.
At first, I remember thinking he was making such great progress. But after a few years in the public school system, we realized that this wasn’t the right path for Cooper to take.
Around this time, he was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism and my parents had a choice to make. They decided it would be best to find a school that fit kids like Cooper better, so we packed up our stuff and moved out to small town Granbury Texas.
The move was by no means easy. It meant leaving everything behind that once felt like home. But it was worth it to me to know that Cooper would feel welcome.
My older brother and I had grown up playing baseball and knew we wanted to continue playing for as long as the game allowed us to play. Well, Cooper had always grown up watching us play and we had always prayed that there would be some way to get him out on a field and let him play some baseball.
We wanted to find a way for him to feel normal and that he was just like any other kid his age. Then came the Miracle League Baseball. A local owner of a baseball organization in town decided to build and open Granbury’s first Miracle League Baseball field right in the middle of his complex. Built out of wheelchair accessible rubber/turf material, the field was specifically designed to accommodate the needs of every future player.
During the inaugural game, Cooper was quick to make his make. He had a natural ability to swing the bat. It wasn’t long before Cooper hit the league’s first homerun. But Cooper didn’t stop there. As he grew into his body Cooper started to crush multiple homeruns a game. And then his fielding and catching started to improve greatly to.
So much so that often I must put a glove on to play catch with him because he throws so hard! I have the great pleasure of volunteering at the Miracle League where I get to help kids like Cooper and help them feel like they are important too. There was finally a place that Cooper felt like he could excel at and put on a show for a crowd. The smile on his face is what makes it all worth it. He turns 18 in April and is just getting started.
We have even talked about in the future looking into the Special Olympics or even a more competitive form of Miracle League to challenge him and let his abilities shine. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for him!