SHALLOWATER, Texas (KCBD) - There is something great happening in Shallowater. A group called DNL meets five times in the spring and five times in the fall.
DNL stands for Different, Not Less and one man in Shallowater is trying to get all the kids who fit into that category to come to Shallowater and play ball.
Brooks Mulanax is the coach but he also has a little girl in the league. Kadi is 9 and has a severe form of epilepsy which makes it hard to communicate.
But somehow, she connects with baseball, like so many others in the league who are challenged in other ways.
DNL started in Shallowater and included a few kids from Abernathy and New Deal because that was where the special needs program brought them to school.
Brooks says the first year, DNL started with just 9 kids but now, after 3 seasons, there are 22 that come from Smyer, Levelland, Wolfforth, Frenship and Cooper.
Free of charge, the DNL league is open to any child with special needs from kindergarten all the way to 5th grade.
Coach Mulanax says “We’re going to put them right up front. They’re going to learn the game. They’re going to find what position they want to play. They’re going to get to pick every inning they want to to play. And and we switch them around and we teach them everything. And that’s because we want our kids to play ball.”
The coach adds that every child must come with a parent or guardian or sibling, someone who knows that child and can offer encouragement.
Israella Guzman brings her son, Johnny, who is a powerful hitter but has trouble communicating. She says, “ He’s loved it. He gets to bat. He gets to play like a real kid. When he goes to bat, he’ll do trash talk. ‘I’m gong get you. I’m gonna get you.’ It’s great to see him coming out of her shell.”
Mulaxan adds, “As parents we’re getting as much out of it as they are. We’re just out here playing ball. And by giving those kids a chance to play ball, it gives the parents, myself included, a chance to see their child do something that most don’t get to do.”
He says some kids barely talk, but will tell you what they like about baseball.
The South Plains Auto Ranch supplies all the uniforms. Maldo Electric provides beautiful trophies. And many area baseball teams offer their support along with Texas Tech baseball players who invited the DNL crew to watch a game.
Mulanax says he just wishes more kids could enjoy this. “The biggest thing I want people to know is that we’re out here. We don’t charge any parent to have their kid come play. if you can get your child to the game, come play with us.”