The San Bernardino Valley College baseball and softball teams took time this week to raise awareness about the specter of autism by hosting special pregame ceremonies before their games Tuesday and Wednesday.
Inspired by the work of head athletic trainer Michael Sola, the teams had special first pitch ceremonies with both teams lining up along their baselines. Tuesday, against San Diego Mesa, Sola’s autistic son Emilio throughout the first pitch before the baseball game. Wednesday, before the softball game against Mt. San Jacinto, Emilio was joined by the Eagles’ team manager Steven Luker, a business administration student, for the first pitch. Both ceremonies ended with team pictures, high fives, and signed balls as keepsakes.
The annual recognition is a special day for Sola, and his family. A teenager, Emilio is a moderately functioning autistic, and attends Anderson School in San Bernardino. Each game also featured Sola’s adult daughter Alejandra singing the national anthem.
A commitment to helping others is part of the culture among the coaches and athletes at SBVC. Among others, the women’s soccer team has team members volunteer at local schools during Read Across America, and spending time.
World Autism Awareness Day was April 2, and the month of April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that affects 1 in 68 children to varying degrees. It impacts the brain in the development of communication skills, social interaction and cognitive function to varying degrees.