HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi Baseball team visited with student's at the DuBard School for Language Disorders Wednesday.
Head Coach Scott Berry said the visit is a tradition he looks forward to every year.
"I believe in the DuBard School and their mission and what they're doing for a lot of people," Berry said. "It's a really, really special place. Each day, you drive by the DuBard School. You see the kids that are out there playing, and it's like I told the young students in there, 'you're like our little brothers and sisters, you know? You're on the campus with us.' It's neat to watch them progress and start off in young life and move forward, and we feel like we're right there with them."
Maureen K. Martin, director of the DuBard School, said, "This is one of those tremendously delightful days of the school year, one that the children and the staff look forward to. You know, we're all so proud to be on the Southern Miss. Many of us are Southern Miss alums, and we think we're raising up the next generation of Golden Eagles. Coach Berry and the other coaches are just so wonderful with the children. I think they have a good time too, but also, our children gain so much from their visit each year."
She says the visit is more than just a fun celebration.
"Their visit is a learning experience," Martin said. "It's not just a fun day. They have stories about baseball. They have stories about the coaches. They learn about the positions that the baseball players play, and they also get to practice their social skills. So there are many things learned today while we're having a good time supporting the Golden Eagles."
Martin said the students are also able to see first hand the importance and rewards that come from hard work, dedication and overcoming adversity.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for our children to see these young men who work so hard on the playing field and off and for them to share their stories and provide encouragement to our children," she said.
"Everybody has challenges at different levels," Berry said. "We're all used to having to battle through those challenges, and for our guys to come here and encourage these young students and their challenges, and really, just kind of reiterate some things that they have to go through as well. It's a win-win for both sides."
Berry said the most rewarding part of the trips to the DuBard school is seeing his players actively working and engaging with students in their classes.
"From a head coach's standpoint, it means everything because I think a big part of life is giving back and helping others," he said. "Investing not just solely in ourselves but to other people and to see them really transition into that in that classroom each year on this day is really a good feeling for me. I know a lot of times it's about wins and losses, but we're trying to educate young men to be better people when they leave here, and certainly, leave us better than we found them."
Martin said, "It's just so heartwarming. You know, especially for our older boys to see these young men as role models, and to learn that they work hard to be able to do what they are doing."