For the first time, Madison’s homeless community will have a softball team in the Madison School & Community Recreation city-wide league. “The Street Pulse Sluggers,” an all men’s team, and “The Beacon Eagles,” a co-ed team, are comprised of current homeless people, former homeless, and homeless activists.

The men’s team is named after Madison’s newspaper for the homeless Street Pulse. The co-ed team is named after two of their sponsors: The Beacon and Edgewood College. The Beacon is a day resource center for those experiencing homelessness. Edgewood College baseball and softball teams donated bats, balls, pants, helmets, and jerseys. The team chose Edgewood’s mascot, the Eagles, in honor of that donation. There are several other sponsors and donors supporting these teams from around the community, including Catholic Charities, Bethel Lutheran Church, and First UMC.

Coach Mike O’Neill, a former high school baseball player and writer for Street Pulse, had the idea to start the team. After getting to know many homeless people in the Madison area, he noticed how many of them had sports interests. In an interview with WISC TV 3 News he said, “I thought it might be fun. It gives them a chance to use a real talent that they have in the midst of all the problems they’re having to deal with.”

He reached out to a few people to start creating the team, and Karen Andro, Director of Hope’s Home Ministries at First UMC Madison, immediately responded. In an interview with WORT Radio, Karen said this program feels different because of how normal it is. She said, “Working though my job in homeless ministries, it was really exciting for somebody to approach me, and talk about something that had nothing to do with the service because it was something that you would talk about in a neighborhood, in a community.”

John Brown, one of the players on the team, was also interviewed on WORT Radio. He believes the most powerful part of the team is how it brings people together. He said, “We are from different backgrounds…and we all get a chance to participate in something together for a change.”

Watch the full video from WISC TV 3 News.

Listen to Alejandro Alonso Galva of WORT Radio interview Coach Mike O'Neill, John Brown, and Karen Andro.