Katie or Catie, it depends on her mood that particular day, dreams of being a fashion designer. She spends her time sketching beautiful dresses and runway clothing in her room with one or two other girls at her treatment facility. To say Katie’s life has been difficult thus far is an understatement. It has left her with no one to lean on in difficult times, no one to call home to, and few to call friends. Fashion provides an escape from reality. This lack of dependable caring adult in her life has caused Katie incredible sadness. A sadness she rarely speaks about or even knows how to express. The expression of her sadness is often through running away from programs, angry outbursts at adult authority figures, and isolating herself in her room.
When the young fashion designer arrived for treatment she found one more thing that bought a smile to her face and gave her motivation to get out of bed every day and try again. Katie discovered she loved “baseball.” This game of “baseball” was Doc Wayne’s therapeutic girls’ softball league. Without Doc Wayne Softball Katie had few reasons to leave her room, engage in treatment, speak to adults, or interact with her peers. Once on the team, Katie spoke at length to everyone she interacted with including teachers, clinicians, and her art teachers about how “baseball” was unlike anything she had ever experienced. She spoke about how supportive her teammates were, how she wanted to practice every night so she could hit more home runs, and how great it felt to be part of a team. Katie’s eyes lit up every time she tried to convey to others how important this new team was to her.
When “baseball” season concluded, Katie and her team continued on to soccer season. With a season under her belt, Katie became a leader on the team and for the League as a whole. Doc Wayne and team sports had brought out one of Katie’s greatest inner strengths, the ability to care for others and be empathic, or in DtG language the capacity to “Build Your Team” and “Run in Their Shoes”. This concern for others was exemplified in a very memorable way one Tuesday afternoon. While playing in goal, clutching her very stylish hat, she sprinted out to assist a fallen opponent only to discover she had left her goal unprotected and had been scored upon. Her concern for another and display of a helping behavior had cost her a goal. She seemed completely unfazed by the goal, laughed it off, and continued playing. Katie went on to become a Doc Wayne DtG All-Star during soccer season and is looking forward to basketball season this winter. It is youth like Katie who understand the importance of “Building Your Team” and “Running in Their Shoes” that make our program.
Jenny, a Doc Wayne athlete for five years, has been in DCF custody from the age of three. Her early life was marred by sexual abuse and severe neglect. The heartbreaking story did not end there. Many failed placements followed and Jenny bounced around to several foster families and treatment centers looking for the care that she desperately needed.
Jenny flourished once she reached a treatment center that participated in Doc Wayne sports. The stable and caring environment coupled with an opportunity to take positive risks and be active was what she needed. Although she still had health concerns and needed intensive therapy Jenny began to feel competent and proud of herself.
Being part of the Doc Wayne team helped Jenny learn social skills, feel confident, and improve her clinical awareness. In the residence, her peers looked at Jenny as a little sister. However, on the field she was an equal teammate and someone they could rely on.
Doc Wayne games were so important to Jenny that participating was her motivation to stay safe the rest of the week. When game day came and she was able to wear her uniform to school, Jenny felt accomplished and proud. The commitment she made to the team each week to stay safe and each season to work on her skills was one of the most important things in her life.
When people asked Jenny what she liked to do or asked her to describe herself she always replied, “I play sports.” Jenny has a long list of Doc Wayne accomplishments in her five years with the program, but if you ask her what’s most important she will likely tell you about the Do the Good skills, her teammates, the van rides to games, the awards nights, and her former and current coaches. The outcome for Jenny may have been very different without the supportive group of teammates she has in her Doc Wayne circle-up.