Archive for Miracle Fields

A Day of Smiles, Tears and an Arizona Landmark being unveiled

dreamcatcher_opening.jpgToday at 10:30AM an Arizona Landmark, a point of light in the millions of points of light that make our country great was unveiled in Surprise, Arizona – DreamCatcher Park. This may well be the most amazing facility in the nation for special needs baseball, it certainly is for the State of Arizona. From the cushioned surface, to the stadium seating the bleacher seats, shade canopies and snack bars that make up this really beautiful facility, I can’t say enough. 

There were so many stories both shared with me and those I saw today, I cannot possibly capture and share all of them here, but these are the experiences from the day that struck me the most.

mayorshafer.jpgFirst, I learned that the facility was envisioned by Mayor Joan Shafer (pictured here with our Gene Udvare / Director of Volunteers and CoS Liasion) almost five years ago. One of the council women had brought the same HBO Real Sports video produced by Frank DeFord that has launched a hundred field across the US for the council to view.   After the viewing Joan reported that there was not a dry eye in the place and they looked at one another and said to themselves “we’re going to do this”.

The field was planned but only partially funded by the city council that year, the balance of the funding came through the generous particpaition of the Surprise SunDancers and both the Royals and the Rangers. Today, March 24, 2007 it opened after $1.6M and years of effort.

nick_pitch.JPGThere were probably a hundred or so people present and after Mark Coronado, Mayor Schafer, representatives from the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals, our own Gene Udvare and a well sung National Anthem rendition the opening pitches were thrown.

Nick Thau made the first pitch to his mom, Christy and then the reason, the purpose and the dream became a reality – DreamCatcher park was officially open for business.

cos_dcp_collage.jpgThe first game was two innings with a mash-up of teams from City of Surprise and the City of Peoria (special thanks to Jackie Stanley!) and while I might find the words, these pictures tell the story pretty well. What they miss are the tears, the ear to ear smiles and the feelings of warmth and love that flowed in, around and through the park. From the players, to the buddies, the coaches and to the fans and then back again, there could not have been a better day than today.

This evening Paul Frei sent an email thanking the a number of people, but I’ll stand up and suggest the real thanks go to Paul, the City of Surprise and all of the people who came up with the phrase “Building A City Beyond Expectations” – thank you to you, the City of Surprise for the courage and vision that goes into making a project like this a reality.


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Truly a ‘Field of Dreams’ – Register Now

dreamcatcher_constructionsign.jpgI visited the field in Surprise today.  There was a Rangers Spring Training game going on across the street – baseball was in the air.  As I walked the field today, I saw a kite floating and thought of Miracle League players spirits soaring at the field in upcoming games.

dreamcatcher_field.jpgThe field is coming along great.  It looks like they have the rubberized surface down and it’s being colored to match a ball field.  Much of the accent colors have been applied and the buildings are almost ready for a finishing coat.

In my minds eye, I saw the players rounding the bases, the parents watching their kids play a game of baseball – some perhaps for the first time ever!

I sat in the stands and I thought about why I and the board do this.  For me, I do not have a special needs child or adult in my life – I have been blessed with three wonderful kids, all without special needs and my parents passed on last year.  I do however accept our place in this world and that we all have a role to play.  One of the lessons I want my children to have is that of having and making friends with others different than themselves – Miracle League can provide that and much, much more. 

When I see our first player Nic and his mom, Chrissy and their enthusiasm, I know this is the right work for me and that this is the right time to be doing it.


The field is here (well, almost) and we’re signing up players – we look forward to seeing you all there.  Sign up your players now for the first ever season.  We’re taking paperwork for players from 5 to 20.  Check the ‘Registration Forms’ page

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First Arizona Field Opens! Dreamcatcher Park at City of Surprise opens in March 2007

It’s heeerrrreee!!!  The first Miracle League field in Arizona and it’s been built by our friends in Surprise Arizona.  The facility is amazing to behold – as I look around the field, I can almost hear the sound of players, buddies and volunteers as they all enjoy the great American Pastime of Baseball…

The week before last, Gene and I sat down with Paul Frie of the City of Surprise Community & Recreations Services.  We discussed the new field, tentatively titled “Dreamcatcher Park”, what the needed resources would be, how the concessions would work, the announcing duties and more. He officially registered Gene and I as volunteers in their program and promptly put us in charge of getting the word out for the first season.

The target for the first season at Dreamcatcher is 40 players. Paul said he would leverage his team from the wildly successful Babe Ruth program they run, but we all agreed that as to our first season, 40 would be a manageable number.  The plan beyond that is to take the summer to review our efforts and then get ready to put on a complete program next year – one that will address several levels of special needs recreational and competitive baseball using the Surprise field and, hopefully, the new fields being built in the Reach 11 area by the City of Phoenix.

Visit the forms page for registration forms.  Contact either us here by clicking the ‘Contact Us’ button or visit the website for the City of Surprise at

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An Amazing Day for MLoAZ!

Monday, February27, 2006

Today we met with David Petersen, Chief of Facilities for Scottsdale Unified School District and his team today at a prospective site for a Miracle League field.  This meeting had come about after my call to Judy Weiss in the Scottsdale Parks & Recreation a few weeks earlier.  My call to Judy was to follow-up on meetings with her and her team, introducing Miracle League and their enthusiastic response to assist us in some way in early 2005.

Miracle League Field ImageJudy returned my call and said that she and her team at the Parks and Rec dept did not see that they would have a facility for us to develop with them and that she had been trying to facilitate a meeting with Scottsdale Unified Schools, specifically with David.  Schedules had been impossible to match up, so she suggested I might call Dave directly.  In my typically shy and retiring way, I called him right after I hung up with Judy.

David’s admin returned my call and asked about what we were looking for in a meeting with David, indicating that he would call me back if he was interested.  David did call back the last week of February.  He asked if we were the group interested in providing a handicapped accessible facility and if we were interested in working with him and his team to get one done.  He had a prospective site for us in North Scottsdale, and perhaps we might meet at the site and look it over. I said yes, that was us and we set a meeting at the field for the next Monday.

The morning came and it was cool February day when we shook hands with David and his team.  From MLoAZ was Terry Mickelson, Ken Staudenmayer and myself.  The meeting was set for 9AM and everyone arrived pretty much on time; Terry brought me a warm cup of coffee…

The site is on the grounds of Cochise Elementary School in North Scottsdale.  We talked about the public / private, nonprofit partnership we’re trying to start and they identified the prospective location to us, in the Northwest corner of the North playground of the school.  There is an existing field used by the local Little League there now, complete with backstop and well worn base paths from kids playing baseball.

We were very excited, to say the least.  Getting a site identified for the field we think will help quite a bit in getting funding and support, so this was a big step down that direction. Dave also gave us the name of the principal of the school, Diane Smith.  

We agreed in principal to move forward with the site identified and after David and the team left, Terry, Ken and I inspected the site, looking at the locations for electrical, water and how much might be leveraged right into the project without any demolition.   As we looked around, Ken punched the air with enthusiasm, thanking God for the many blessing provided that day in support of a dream he has nurtured in seeing a field become a reality.

Terry took a few pictures of Ken and I on the pitchers mound (we’ll post them soon!)and we talked about the work ahead of us.  One of the realizations we talked about would be the need to gain the support of the local neighborhood and the school itself.  This would have to be through a series of meeting and conversation, each of which would drive the project forward just a little bit more.

We decided that there was no time like the present to drop in on the school principal to introduce ourselves, so we did.  We entered the administrative office and asked for Ms. Smith, who was gratious enough to take a few moments to visit with us.  We talked about the scope of the project and where we were in the development of the field.  She welcomed our involvement in the local community and offered the school cafeteria as a meeting room when we needed it to hold our meetings with the local homeowners.

She then took us on a walk outside to show us the North end of the schools facility, which was an enclosed playground for the younger students.  She had picked up in our conversation that the surface of the field was rubberized, which was the same surface she envisioned for this play area.  She asked if we might consider working with her and her local parent-teacher organization to piggyback off of our purchase of surfacing material – we accepted her invitation to explore the relationship and then parted on good terms, having found willing supporters in developing community with another.

What a great day for Miracle League in Arizona!

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