Even though Matt Storey became infatuated with sports as a youngster, parents Ken and Kim Storey figured he'd never have an opportunity to participate in high school athletics.

Even though Matt Storey became infatuated with sports as a youngster, parents Ken and Kim Storey figured he'd never have an opportunity to participate in high school athletics.

Matt Storey was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling. He also has autism and Noonan syndrome, which causes abnormal development in many parts of the body. There also are physical limitations caused by mild cerebral palsy.

Nevertheless, Storey has persevered to become the longest-serving team manager in Dublin Coffman baseball history.

"Matt's done a great job for us for a long time," coach Tim Saunders said. "You can do a lot of good for special needs kids by giving them roles to play in your program, and Matt's contributed to our team in a lot of different ways."

Storey will raise and take down three flags, rub the sheen from new baseballs, take the starting lineup to the opposing team and retrieve foul balls during home games.

Afterward, he often helps sweep or run a vacuum in the dugouts.

He said he enjoys each of his duties, especially taking care of the baseballs.

"I like to rub the game balls up," Storey said. "I give one to the starting pitcher and the others to the umpire."

Coffman players have embraced him throughout his seven seasons with the program.

When Storey, 23, recently bought a large container of sunflower seeds to share with the team, several players said "Storey, you're the man."

"It's nice having him there, cheering on our team and talking to everyone," senior first baseman Ryan Davis said. "He does a lot different things for us and everyone on our team includes him and makes sure he's having a good time."

Storey is known for having a sense of humor. He was so popular he was voted homecoming king in 2008.

"The kids like having him around, and they really miss him when he's gone and they need to take care of the things that Matt does for us," Saunders said. "When the players are nervous during a tense moment of the game, Matt has a way of saying something funny to lighten things up. The other day when I was driving Matt home, he said 'Coach, I've been doing this a long time, are you going to retire my jersey and hang it up when I'm finished?' He's always saying funny things like that."

Saunders said Storey has taught Shamrocks players to appreciate what they have and to be more compassionate to developmentally handicapped students.

"Matt's a great example for the kids because when they're down in the dumps during a tough practice I tell them to think about Matt and how he'd love to be in their shoes getting the opportunity to play this game," Saunders said.

Storey has made several lasting friendships while serving as team manager, and he enjoys the social aspect of working with the coaches and players.

During games, Storey wears a No. 99 jersey with his last name on the back, along with a helmet and pants that match team colors.
"I just like being a part of the team," he said. "This way, I'm not cooped up in the house all day and all night."

Storey participated in the Special Olympics from age 8 through 13, but lost interest after serving as the equipment manager for the Karrer Middle School basketball team as a sixth-grader.

Over the following two years, Storey was an equipment manager for Karrer's football, basketball and baseball squads then served as a football, wrestling and baseball team manager during his six years at Coffman. Even after graduating last spring, he roamed the sidelines during football games last fall, wearing a football helmet and jersey.

"Once Matt got involved with his school teams, that took over his need for doing sports and he didn't want to participate in the Special Olympics anymore," Kim Storey said. "Matt sort of becomes part of these teams and the coaches and players have been wonderful to him."
During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Storey served as a bat boy for the Columbus Clippers, and it didn't take long before he befriended several players.

Storey had to quit his job with the Clippers this year after being hired by OhioHealth to work in environmental services at Riverside Methodist Hospital.

Storey performs a number of tasks, like collecting wheelchairs and cleaning beds.

While he's currently too busy to work for the Clippers, he'd like to continue attending Coffman football games and work alongside Saunders.

With his first paycheck from his new job, Storey bought a flagpole, and he already has designed two flags for the baseball Shamrocks.

"I don't see an end to it because Matt loves it so much," Kim Storey said. "Matt's a huge country music fan and when we asked him if he wanted to go see Brad Paisley perform a concert in October, he immediately said 'No, I have a football game to go to that night.'

"I can't express enough how well the entire Dublin community has supported Matt, from many different people giving him rides to games, to the Dublin City Schools' forward-thinking programs that trained him to work and helped get him a job. We feel blessed to live in this community and we're grateful for all of the opportunities that Matt has received and earned."