Jennifer Smith, director of leisure activities for Jasper, said a second sport was necessary to keep the group of special athletes excited about playing.
“I don’t want them to get burned out, and they also deserve a chance to try every sport too,” Smith said.
The Dream Team motto of promoting inclusiveness instead of competitiveness will apply in soccer just as it did in baseball.
The team is open to anyone, whether they have a special need or not. Children age 12 and under play on the team while those 13 and up are eligible to be buddies.
The soccer team will also be divided into two leagues based on age and ability.
Stacie Standifer said her 4-year-old son Logan is looking forward to being on the soccer team.
Logan, who was born with Down’s Syndrome, has been on the Dream Team since it started in 2009.
Logan enjoys baseball but not the standing around that the sport often requires. Sometimes Logan checks the fence line for holes when the game loses his interest.
“We discovered in baseball that he likes to hit the ball and run, but he doesn’t want to stop on the bases and wait for somebody else. So I think the constant movement in soccer will be really good for him,” Standifer said.
Five-year-old Maddox Ward has also committed to being on the new soccer team.
Maddox and his parents, Neida and Brian, drove from Double Springs this year to be a part of the Dream Team’s second baseball season.
Neida Ward said the relaxed rules work well for Maddox, who has autism.
“He likes to do his own thing. He plays in the dirt most of the time,” she said.
Ward said one of her favorite pictures is of Maddox making sand angels on the infield in the middle of a game.
Both Maddox and Logan have learned to enjoy being part of a group since joining the Dream Team.
After Maddox was given his first Dream Team shirt, he confused family members for several days by repeatedly saying “Anine.” Eventually, his mother noticed that 9 was the number on his jersey.
Now when Maddox passes through Jasper on his way to and from doctors appointments, he always says, “I bat.”
Maddox’s parents both played sports in high school. Although they know he can’t play competitively like they did, they want him to experience being on a team without having to sit on the bench.
“We get to be on the field and help. They would never let us do that in Double Springs, but he’s not going to listen to anyone else, especially someone screaming at him,” Brian Ward said.
Logan’s parents developed a passion for baseball while staying in Boston for his heart surgeries shortly after his birth.
Although Logan loves sports too, they never expected he would have an opportunity to play.
On the Dream Team, Logan not only gets to score every inning but can also pick up the ball on his way to first base if he wants to.
“It’s an activity that doesn’t put any added stress on his heart, and he doesn’t have to worry about winning, losing or not getting a home run,” Stacie Standifer said.
The Arc of Alabama recently selected the Dream Team to receive the Boggs/Mitchell Award.
Smith said the award’s prestige will prove helpful while raising funds for a Miracle Field, which would provide a safe playing field for the team.
“In 2007, APEX won the Boggs/Mitchell Award and it opened so many doors when we were applying for grants or talking about that project,” Smith said.
Registration for Dream Team soccer is open through Sept. 17 for ages 4 and up. The fee is $50, which includes a shirt and shin guards. Some scholarships are available.
For more information, call 384-9617.