By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Minnesota athletes are preparing to compete on the national stage, but they need a little help to get there.

The Burnsville Blast are a Special Olympics softball team that has grown in recent years. WCCO spoke with coach Ryan Petrich, who said there were only eight athletes when he joined nine years ago. Now, there are more than 60 players across three softball teams.

“These kids are more than just like athletes, they’re kind of like a family for us, like brothers and sisters, you know,” Petrich said. “We always hang out with each other, go to parties, events, just gatherings in general, so it’s a pretty core group of kids to be around.”

Petrich say getting involved with the Blast has been life changing.

(credit: GoFundMe)

“Once you’re in it you get hooked, and you’re not gonna leave,” he said.

The team has been selected by Special Olympics Committee of the U.S.A. to represent Team Minnesota for unified softball. But of course, Minnesota winters can make it hard to train outside.

“We’re looking for either indoor facility or place to, you know, batting cages, fielding, just somewhere we can go so we can practice and get better throughout the entire year instead of taking a little break,” Petrich said.

The team started a GoFundMe to help raise money for their efforts.