Providing sporting opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is not a new concept, but localizing the opportunities in our area is what MS Gulf Coast Buddy Sports is about. Realizing the desire for more local sporting and leisure opportunities for the youths and adults with special needs, MS Gulf Coast Buddy Sports, Inc. was created in order to develop and facilitate these opportunities.
MS Gulf Coast Buddy Sports evolved from the Cal Ripkin Bambino Buddy Ball Program, which is part of the Long Beach Youth Baseball League. In 2010, a Buddy Ball division was started within the Long Beach Youth Baseball league, so youths and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities would have the opportunity to enjoy the sport of baseball. After nine years of playing in Long Beach, the Buddy Ball program moved to the new synthetic turf fields at the Gulfport Sportsplex for our 10th year. Buddy Ball started in 2010 with about 30 players and a handful of volunteers. In 2019, Buddy Ball had 115 players and 130 volunteers registered with the program.
MS Gulf Coast Buddy Sports was created by Mike and Representative Carolyn Crawford. Our daughter, Emily, has always been active in sports, just like her siblings. Unfortunately, after playing in the t-ball league, she could not play well enough to join the more competitive leagues. We started Buddy Ball in 2010 so Emily and her friends could continue to play ball, just like her sister and brother.
As the program continues to grow in numbers, discussions center around more opportunities for the players to participate in other sports and leisure activities. Various sporting and leisure activities for individuals with special needs are available along the MS Gulf Coast, but most are scattered throughout lower Harrison and Jackson counties. MS Gulf Coast Buddy Sports desires to make recreational sports and other leisure activities available and affordable to all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in South Mississippi. We currently have participants from 5 of the 6 southernmost counties in South Mississippi.
Our Board and Officers
Mike Crawford, Founder - Executive Director
Chip Williams, Vice President
Paul Whaley, Treasurer
Stella Wolf, Secretary
Keith "Sparky" Clark, Board Member
Susanna Crapps, Board Member
Charlie Smith, Board Member
Mike Taylor, Board Member