Courtesy of Kim Storey
Matt Storey is many things.
He is a 22-year-old sports fanatic who can talk for hours about his favorite teams, players and even mascots.
He is a ball boy at Huntington Park for the Columbus Clippers.
He works at Riverside Methodist Hospital in patient transportation and environmental services.
He is also developmentally disabled, which normally would keep someone from doing half the activities he does.
Matt, who has trouble speaking, communicated through his parents.
“He started in sixth grade being the manager for the eighth-grade basketball team,” said Ken Storey, his father.
Matt participated in the Special Olympics growing up, but decided he enjoyed managing more.
While at Dublin Coffman High School, he managed the football, wrestling and baseball teams. He loved going to the games and feeling like he was part of each team, even though he didn’t get to be on the field.
Matt’s parents even bought him a Dublin Coffman helmet, which he wore on the sidelines with his No. 99 jersey.
His hard work and personality did not go unnoticed, and his classmates voted him homecoming king in 2008.
“Matt has the ability to adapt to those around him,” said Kim Storey, his mother.
Matt was also able to hold jobs off the field in the school store and at Longhorn Steakhouse.
“The amazing thing was that, at Longhorn, he learned the table numbers by associating them with professional athletes,” Kim said.
It was during a trip to Huntington Park in 2009 that Kim felt she had found the perfect fit for Matt.
“It is very hard to find employment for special needs. Everywhere I go, I wonder if it is a good place for Matt to work,” she said. “But when I was down at Huntington, I just got this feeling.”
Matt’s parents put together a portfolio and sent it to George Robinson, the clubhouse manager. After looking at it and making a few phone calls, Robinson decided to give Matt a job.
“He has a passion and a love for the game like I do,” Robinson said. “After we talked, we had a little special bond.”
Robinson always keeps an eye on Matt by staying on the steps of the dugout or notifying the umpires about him.
Matt learned quickly and did his job well. The players immediately took notice, and developed a fondness for his hard work.
“All the players joke around with him,” Robinson said. “Matt is part of our family here.”
When the Clippers were en route to their Governors Cup victory last year, they asked Matt to come to the ballpark and work during the playoffs.
When the 2011 season was about to begin, Robinson sent the Storeys an email talking about how much the team wanted Matt back.
The Storeys could not wait for Matt to don his uniform again this year.
“We sit in the stands and just enjoy it,” Ken said.
The journey from sixth-grade manager to working at Huntington Park has been as exciting for Matt as it has been for his parents.
“The Clippers have been wonderful through all this,” Ken said. “To take a chance on a boy like Matt just speaks volumes about them.”