Studio Forsyth: The Special Olympics of Forsyth holds its 10th annual "Battle of the Bats"
When Dave Phillips moved to Forsyth County more than 10 years ago, he wanted to keep his special-needs son, Brian, involved in Special Olympics. He was in luck. The organization’s Forsyth County chapter was just starting a softball tournament.
On Saturday, Phillips was back again, this time as a coach at Special Olympics Forsyth County’s 10th annual Battle of the Bats Softball Invitational at Central Park.
“These athletes really come together, really love the camaraderie and the participation,” Phillips said. “They’re as competitive as any athlete out there. But they also have a different flare about them as well, which is something you can’t bottle.”
Linda Fitzpatrick, local coordinator of Special Olympics Forsyth County, said the tournament began as a way to prepare for the Georgia State Games. Seven teams participated that first year.
Saturday’s tournament had more than 30 teams from four states including Georgia participate.
“Everybody is looking forward to this day,” Fitzpatrick said. “After the tournament is over I start getting emails and phone calls from people wanting to know what the date is for next year. The athletes, especially Forsyth County, the families and all the athletes rally together to fundraise not only for this day but for our entire program.”
Phillips coached the Loose Cannons, one of three teams from Forsyth County along with the Mystic Batters and Golden Gloves as well as a skills team. Each played in a few games over the course of the day, and teams could play in one of three different formats. Modified games had coaches pitch. Unified games featured teams comprised of athletes and unified partners playing together. There were also traditional games.
“There’s a diverse offering for all skill levels and all athletes to play,” Fitzpatrick said.
Phillips’ team was comprised of adults all the over up to 40 years old
“It's really amazing to bring all these people together,” Phillips said, “and to see what we can do and unite together and let these athletes get to participate in a sport they love, but they probably never had an opportunity to do so while they were coming up through mainstream sports. This is their day.”
Britt Hall was the Golden Gloves’ shortstop. It was his eighth season playing in the event.
But it won’t be his last.
“It’s the best,” Hall said. “I’m never going to quit. It makes me feel great.”
Fitzpatrick added: “It’s just a glorious and magical day.”