College Pitches In With Sign Language Assistance

Published 08.28.2017

Student News
Faculty & Staff

Two members of the Pennsylvania College of Technology family offered their sign language assistance at the annual Challenger Division exhibition game, held Saturday as part of the Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport.

Sarah S. Moore, disability services and deaf services specialist, and Korey T. Keyser, a senior in aviation maintenance technology from Waldorf, Maryland, pitched in to aid Travis Mikulka, a deaf catcher for Freehold Township Little League from New Jersey.

From left, Sarah S. Moore, Travis Mikulka and Korey T. Keyser sign "L," "L," and "W.S." for Little League World Series during their "awesome" weekend of teamwork.Freehold Township participated in the Challenger Division game with Riverside Little League from Rhode Island. The division gives boys and girls with physical and mental challenges the opportunity to play baseball. No score is kept during Challenger games and each player gets a chance to bat.

Keyser served as Mikulka’s “buddy” for the weekend’s events, including practice and exhibition game. The Challenger Division encourages the use of on-field “buddies” for each player.

Keyser took EDU130 (American Sign Language 1), taught by Moore, during the Spring 2017 semester. Add his experience as a baseball player, and Keyser was the perfect fit when Moore received a request for sign language assistance from Freehold’s Challenger organization.

“Korey is a former baseball player and he picked up quickly learning sign language,” Moore said. “He was eager to learn, willing to practice and highly motivated to do well. With his background in baseball and his signing abilities, I didn’t hesitate when I needed to choose a student with a basic knowledge of sign language.”

After the big events, she added, “Korey embraced the situation and was a natural with Travis.”

“I had a blast!,” Keyser enthused. “I was looking forward to it so much, I couldn’t sleep the night before. It was a great experience overall.”

Keyser, who played baseball from age 4 through his high school years, including Little League games, added, “It’s funny, you grow up playing baseball and it’s always a dream to get to the Little League World Series. I never had the privilege of making it as a player, but here I am, 20 years old, and I’m here.”

Keyser’s parents traveled from their home in southern Maryland to watch their son on the field.

“My Mom and Dad were so proud of me,” he said.

Keyser and Moore were proud of Mikulka, who wound up being the star of the game.

“Word spread in the deaf community that Travis was coming, and the local chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of the Deaf came to support him,” Moore said. “He had his own cheering section! Travis was awestruck with the attention. He was the star of the game. He refused to use the tee after five pitches (a rule of the game), and then he had a huge hit. He slid into home! And then he fist-bumped and ‘elbowed’ all the umpires as he exited the field. He was adorable and full of positivity. It was awesome!”

Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was also on hand, coaching the Challenger players at third base and placing medals around their necks.

“It was an experience of a lifetime for me and Korey,” Moore said.

This was her second time assisting a deaf player at the annual Little League Baseball World Series. In 2015, she offered sign language service to a young participant from Canada.

Employed at Penn College since 2010, Moore provides interpreting services for students and employees, ensuring communication access in all facets of college life. She earned her M.A. in school counseling and guidance from Gallaudet University, a renowned institution for the deaf and hard of hearing, and a B.S. in sign language interpretation from Bloomsburg University. Moore is a nationally certified interpreter through the Register for Interpreters for the Deaf.

Established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League, the Challenger Division has over 30,000 children participating in more than 900 Challenger Divisions nationwide.

The Challenger Division exhibition game held during the August world series has proved to be a crowd favorite since 2001.