Every July at Lacasse Park, the Tecumseh Baseball Club hold their annual Friends of TBC Baseball Fun Camp that provides an amazing experience for adults with special needs. Ranging from ages 20 to 60, they are walked through the full Tecumseh Baseball experience with drills, food and even their own All-Star game where they get to show off everything they learned throughout the day. This initiative has been a wonderful learning opportunity for players and coaches alike as they get to expand their horizons and share their passion for baseball.
Rob Murphy has been the Fun Camp coordinator since its inception in 2009. “I was coaching my son in Midget and my co-coach had a son working in the Community Living area,” Murphy described when explaining how the camp came to be. “We hatched an idea to bring these clients out to the ballpark for a day of baseball and hot dogs.” Over time, the program has evolved to include around 40 to 60 clients as they participate in a full day of baseball activities.
Over the course of the day, the campers participate in activities and drills where they practice their hitting, fielding, and footwork where they aren’t measured by their success, but by how much fun they are having. Players of the Tecumseh Thunder are active leaders in the drills to help them through the movements. “I see elite athletes, who have athletic gifts that come fairly easily to them assisting our clients who's athletic gifts don't come so easily,” Murphy explained. “The clients share with us so many other gifts that our players maybe don't see in their everyday lives.”
The Fun Camp holds such a long-lasting effect on the players that they even come back to volunteer after their Midget-level playing days are behind them. Murphy stated, “There is no doubt that this event affects our players. I often have former players see me in the spring and ask, ‘Coach Murph, what day is the camp this year? I don't want to miss it!’” The event has expanded in such a way that in the last couple of years, St. Clair College players and local fastpitch teams have been brought in to add their expertise to the already stacked lineup. Murphy said that the Mayor has even attended the lunch to interact with the campers on their big day.
With the global pandemic of 2020, last year’s TBC Fun Camp was cancelled. While the Tecumseh Baseball Club is hoping the situation will be more under control for the summer months, it looks as though this year’s camp will be pushed back to the fall. Murphy said, “I envision a beautiful fall weekend in September if we can get the same help that we traditionally get in the summer.”
The Friends of TBC Baseball Fun Camp is an event that provides a day of giving for the players and organizers involved and is something we all need in 2021: a day of fun. The campers get to experience the feeling of being on an iconic field of their community and the players get to improve their leadership skills; something that translates well to their performance the field in-game. “It would emphasize to our players how fortunate they are to be playing the game they love. And it is by far the favourite day of the summer for our clients, as they get a beautiful day at Lacasse Park with their friends and get to play some ball and have a hot dog in our historic grandstands.”