Published in the March 16, 2017 edition
NORTH READING – North Reading Little League is proud to announce that its Challenger Division will return for the fourth straight year.
Challenger is most easily described as adaptive baseball for kids with special needs. It was established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League to enable boys and girls with physical and intellectual challenges, ages 4-18 (or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school), to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in the sport worldwide. Today, more than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide.
Since its inception in 2014, the NRLL Challenger Division has grown to more than three dozen players, serving families in North Reading and attracting youngsters from area communities that include Reading, Peabody, and Lynnfield. Coaches and volunteers – known as “buddies” – take a clinic-style approach that combines skills and drills, followed by modified games for the players. The emphasis is on fun and safety while learning to enjoy the game of baseball.
Sessions will run on Sundays from 9-10:30 a.m. starting April 30 at Benevento Fields, with a “road game” or two mixed against some of the Challenger Divisions in surrounding communities. The program runs through mid-June, ending with a Jamboree hosted by Weston Little League, which is always a big hit with families and volunteers.
NRLL President Eddie Madden has seen the positive momentum and impact of the Challenger Division firsthand, noting, “Community interest and support for our Challenger players and volunteers has been tremendous. The most rewarding part is that we’re seeing an entirely new group of kids enjoy the great game of baseball by making it accessible to them.
“It is truly one of the best things we do as a league because of the lives it positively affects, and I don’t just mean the players,” said Madden. “The volunteers, many of them Little League players themselves, find it an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Registration for NRLL Challenger Baseball is now open at www.nrll.org. Those interested in the program may also contact NRLL Challenger Division director Chris Hanson at [email protected] or by calling (781) 439-9031.