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Outagamie County man with Down syndrome coaches first game

Miracle League game, Rockies vs. Rangers Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- A man with Down syndrome coached his first game Wednesday night.

It's the story of Noah Van Vooren, who played in the Miracle Baseball League for people with special needs.

Now Van Vooren is stepping to the plate as assistant coach.

With every hit in Miracle League Baseball, cheers and applauds immediately follow.

But on Wednesday, some of those cheers weren't only for the players.

Van Vooren has Down syndrome and it's his first game as an assistant coach for the Rockies team in the Miracle League.

"Kids age out at age 19 ,and we do still have kids that want to be apart of the league, but there's not a lot of opportunities for kids who enjoy sports during summer, so Noah was interested in staying on the team and we decided to make him as an assistant coach," explained Miracle League founder Lisa Robbins.

Robbins said Miracle League is an organization for children and young adults with special needs.

"I think for the group of our kids, the fact that Noah is an assistant coach, it gives them the ability to see that when they're finished with their career, when they age out of the Miracle League, that they can possibly continue to participate," said Robbins.

"It makes him feel proud; it makes him feel like he's accomplishing something, and he can give back to other kids, to make sure they're fulfilling their fun there too," Van Vooren's father, Todd Van Vooren, said.

Not only did Van Vooren step up as assistant coach, but he also influenced friends to volunteer.

"Noah actually got me into this league and introduced me to the whole special needs area and I've learned so much from him," said Ariel Schrader of Little Chute.

Schrader has known Van Vooren since second grade and is now the head coach for the same team.

"Noah, he does kind of the pep talk so he gets everyone going, so that's a good job for him," explained Schrader.

And with his new position, Van Vooren hopes to get every player a home run.

The Miracle League also has leagues in Allouez and Manitowoc with plans for Fond du Lac.

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