Garrett Ansell excitedly approached the plate with baseball bat in hand. The game was over, but that didn’t matter. After a lopsided game against Greensburg Salem, Southmoreland’s JV coach, Brian Riffle approached the umpire asking for one more chance for Garrett to bat. The umpire smiled and brought the Lions back onto the field for one more batter. That umpire’s decision to let Garrett bat allowed everyone at that game to be a part of a special moment, not only for Garrett, but also his parents, his team, and his community.
CRACK! The sound of the bat connecting with the ball echoed along with the roaring of the crowd. As Garrett Ansell, a player with down syndrome, rounded the bases and “belly flopped” onto home plate, he smiled proudly hearing “Go Garrett! Go Garrett!” being yelled from every corner of the baseball field from Scottie fans to Lions fans to coaches to teammates. It was a dream come.
“Nothing could make me prouder of Garrett. Nothing could make me prouder of the community, of the school district, of the coaches and of the team,” said Garrett’s father, Russ Ansell. “They’ve been so amazing. I can’t even explain how it makes me feel for what they’ve done for him.”
Ansell has always had a great love for sports, especially baseball. This year, his father talked to SHS baseball coach Daniel Boring about Garrett being a part of the team whether it be as a player or just an equipment manager.
“I told him that if the kid wanted to play baseball then he was going to play baseball,” said Boring reflecting on this conversation. “It’s been a real pleasure having him as part of this program and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
And neither would Garrett’s teammates.
“Garrett has heart, passion, and everything to make him a great baseball player and even greater teammate,” said senior Pacey Cramer. “He always has a positive attitude and can pick you up when you have a bad game.”
Cramer shared that earlier in the season, he struck out with a batter on third and Garrett was the one to lift his spirits. When Ansell saw that Cramer was upset with himself, he hugged him and told him to “keep your head up.”
Ansell’s teammates value him as a teammate but not as much as he values simply being a part of the team.
“I like sports and just happy I play,” said Garrett. “Best honor.”
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