A baseball organization for teens and adults with autism is taking a turn to form a team in Grand Junction.
The Alternative Baseball Organization (ABO) has teams across the country that serve as athletic and social hubs for teens 15 years and older and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as those with other disabilities. ABO commissioner, director and founder Taylor Duncan keeps an eye on Western Slope as the organization continues to grow.
“We have those who are interested in the area,” Duncan said. “We’ve had pretty good success recruiting so far to Colorado Springs, but there’s nothing else in the state with extra teams they can play against, so we’re trying to create a circle of cities across the state to be able to play games next. year. ”
Duncan, who is from Dallas, Georgia, founded ABO in 2016 when he was 20, and draws from his own experience, his growing awareness of the challenges that teens and young adults face, and his love of baseball.
“I’m on the spectrum myself, and I wanted to give back to others like myself,” Duncan said. “I know there are a lot of resources out there for high school in many areas. I wanted to keep playing, and this was an opportunity to bring it to my segment of disabled people who otherwise did not have the same resources. ”
The games are played on traditional high school fields and by Major League Baseball rules, with nine rounds and using wooden bats.
ABO’s western teams outside of Colorado Springs are in Tacoma, Washington; Boise, Idaho; Orange County, California; Barstow, California; San Francisco; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Goodyear / Avondale, Arizona; and Albuquerque. In total, ABO has teams in 30 states.
The organization has grown significantly in recent years, thanks in part to Duncan’s appearances on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” and NBC’s “TODAY Show” which discusses the league. Now that the programs have proven successful in major cities, and taking root in markets such as Grand Junction and possibly other cities on the Western Slope, is the next step.
“It’s about building friendships, building social skills, building physical skills, learning to deal with disappointment and learning to deal with the big things that happen with the right sport,” Duncan said. “It’s about learning to work together as a team, because all of these skills are needed in the wonderful, broad world of employment.
“When you get older and go to work in which field the players go, more than likely, they have to work together. The baseball game will really promote these teamwork skills. ”
It takes about six months to set up a team due to lack of services available in most areas for teens and adults with disabilities, as well as the recruitment of coaches, managers, staff and players which is a virtual process due to COVID-19- pandemic. .
The first step towards forming a Grand Junction team will be to find a coach / manager, and then find assistants, coaches and players. All positions are voluntary. The team will probably start playing in the spring of 2022.
Anyone interested in applying to be a coach / leader for the Grand Junction program can visit https://www.alternativebaseball.org. Click on “sign up to coach”, and agree to talk to Duncan over the phone.