Community Engagement

Baseball Outreach

The OU Baseball team works closely with OUCARES, teaching them life lessons through baseball

People on a baseball field
A kid running through a tunnel of hands
A group of men posing.
A kid throwing a baseball


icon of a calendarJune 23, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Michael Downes

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On Tuesdays in autumn, the Oakland University baseball team’s practices last an hour longer than usual. For the past five years, the team has worked alongside the Joanne and Ted Lindsay Foundation Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES), helping students on the autism spectrum with baseball camps.

“We work with children, teens and young adults to develop self-confidence, sportsmanship and teamwork to improve behavior and social life through baseball drills,” says Dan Rutan, a left-handed pitcher for OU and director of the OUCARES baseball program.

Rutan is in charge of roughly 15 students as they go through hitting, fielding and pitching drills before scrimmaging one another. He has seen a vast improvement in the OUCARES participants as the weeks go on.

“It gets them out of their shell,” explains Rutan. “At the beginning, the kids are very shy and hesitant; some don’t even want to leave the car or interact with us. By the last few camps, they’re running toward the field, ready to grab a glove and a ball.”

The camps reach farther than the attendees and have a meaningful impact on the players, too.
“A lot goes on in college; every day is a grind,” Rutan says. “For that hour, we’re able to put everything aside and just be with the kids and see them have a great time.” “It shows that we can have an impact in their life,” he continues, “and there’s no greater joy in life than positively impacting someone else’s life.”

Explore more ways OU Athletics supports the community.

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