GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — An idea was born more than a decade ago that’s changed hundreds of lives for the better. At the time, the Gloversville baseball team had raised money for the Albany Children’s Hospital.
On their way back from dropping off the donation, one of the players suggested they help out somebody closer to home. With that, Derrick McGuinness was invited to become the manager of the team.
D-Rock, as he’s affectionately nicknamed, was a student at the time who was born with Fragile X syndrome. Before unified sports started in New York, this was the perfect way for the baseball fan to be part of a program.
From the moment he joined, the energy shifted, and it’s stayed that way for the last 11 years. “Pure energy, ball of fire,” head baseball coach John Lott described McGuinness. “He just comes every day and he gets the kids up and excited.”
“I love it,” said McGuinness, now 27 years old, who has since joined the football and basketball programs as well.
“He’s amazing. He’s probably the best person all around,” said Gloversville senior John Heimer, who’s on all three teams with McGuinness. “When we’re down, he just brings us all up at once. It’s crazy how he impacts us as a team.”
Head football coach Jim Robare said he and D-Rock bust each other’s chops, but that D-Rock’s dedication to the program sets a strong example for the players coming through. “He shows up every day, something that we teach the kids here in Gloversville is you have to show up every day,” said Robare. “He’s just a lot of fun.”
McGuinness is also helpful. He gets the players water, helps out with equipment, and pumps the crowd up during football and basketball games. During baseball season, he acts like another coach on the bench, retrieves foul balls, warms up the players, and is always shooting the breeze.
After all, his job in some ways is the joy he naturally brings. As much as D-Rock gets out of being part of the team, he gives back just by being there.
“Help them get excited to win, it’s really fun!” said McGuinness. “These guys are awesome to me. They’re like my kids to me.”