The miracle of Miracle League

The paved field at Bane Park on the south side of Brainerd comes alive every Monday and Wednesday night with the sights and sounds of endurance, passion and pure grit as the Miracle League teams take the field.

With dad Cory and brother Parker helping, Hunter Oehlke keep an eye on the field while batting Monday, June, 28, 2021 at the Miracle League Field in Bane Park in Brainerd. The Miracle League began in Brainerd with the construction of the field in 2015 and is designed for players with special needs. Under the direction of District 181 Community Education, the players take the field on Monday and Wednesday nights. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

When Sam Wicklund found out a baseball coach was needed for Miracle League this year, she was a little unsure if she was qualified. Still, she applied for the position right away and earned the job.

The league is for kids and adults with special needs of any kind. The Miracle League in Brainerd began with retired Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailer, who raised the majority of the money to build the field in 2015 at Bane Park in south Brainerd and coached through the 2019 season. Last season the league was put on hold last year because of COVID-19. Returning this year, the teams received new uniforms donated by the Brainerd Eagles Club.

In her first year of coaching, Wicklund has three teams: 12 and under, teens and adults. Wicklund has worked with kids with special needs for more than 20 years and said she feels privileged to be working with these players.


"They face many different obstacles, yet they show up, they are so excited to be part of a team, and they are just incredible individuals. You know the saying ‘attitude is everything,’ well, my players are prime examples of this and I am so proud of them. I am blessed to be a little part of their lives,” Wicklund said.

She said she is fortunate to bring any kind of joy to the lives of her players.

"The smiles on these players’ faces say it all, not to mention their families. They put everything into perspective and that is so very important. They absolutely love to play.”

I was raised on a farm in western Minnesota where I participated in 4-H, high school sports, and everything that farm kids do for fun after chores. Graduated from Ridgewater Community College with an AA degree and my first taste of newspapering. I worked a summer on the Ortonville Independent as a reporter and photographer.
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