Baseball Team, ARCH to Renew Friendly Rivalry
By Doug Carroll
When the GCU baseball team takes the field on Wednesday, Nov. 29, for its exhibition game with the Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped, one former Antelope will have a special interest in the occasion.
That would be Marcus Edel, who played for the ‘Lopes and now works as director of health and wellness at ARCH, located at 15th Avenue and Colter Street in Phoenix.Edel, a 2007 graduate of GCU in justice studies who recently completed a master’s degree in leadership, had planned on becoming a policeman before his volunteer involvement at ARCH led him down a different career path.
Through the efforts of GCU physical-education instructor Malcolm “Mac” Sloan and Baseball Coach Dave Stapleton, the University has had a relationship with ARCH for more than five years.
Edel’s participation didn’t end with his playing days, however. He recently was hired full time by the facility after serving an internship there and helping with a children’s summer camp.
“The director of their Steps to Better Health program was leaving,” Edel says, “and they needed someone to run it.
“ARCH is like a YMCA for handicapped adults — that’s the best way I can describe it. These people don’t have much of a family life. They live in group homes. The one-on-one interaction with them is the best part.”
The game, which will be played after a noon lunch served at Brazell Stadium on campus, has become a tradition. Next week’s renewal will be the seventh time GCU and ARCH have squared off in good-natured competition.
“It’s a great opportunity for ARCH to be involved with the University,” Edel says. “And it gives the players a break from their normal day and some perspective. Dave (Stapleton) likes to give the players a pep talk that this is what life is all about.”
Edel’s involvement — and eventual employment — at ARCH doesn’t surprise the coach.
“This is right up his alley,” Stapleton says. “He’s always been good at this. When he played in those games, the people from ARCH just loved him.”
Stapleton says the idea for the game began when he was approached by a few of his players. The event has grown over the years to involve the entire squad. GCU and ARCH most recently played last spring, with the Antelope players simulating various handicaps (such as throwing with their opposite hand or hopping on one leg) to even things out.
Matt Levac, who played for the Antelopes and will graduate from GCU in December, has been a regular volunteer at ARCH. He helped set up a strength and conditioning program that Edel utilizes.
“It’s rewarding and fun to see their excitement,” says Levac, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy. “You get to know the people down there. A lot of them are pretty functional in terms of body movement. They love working on the machines. When you go there, you have two or three just waiting for you.”
Edel says the daily drop-in program at ARCH involves about 50 adults on a regular basis. In December, students from GCU’s College of Nursing will visit ARCH to perform health screenings for the second consecutive year.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].