California 28 Little League: Start a Challenger Division

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The Challenger Division of Little League is a program for developmentally and physically challenged youth, helping them to enjoy the full benefits of Little League participation in an athletic environment structured to their abilities. More than the skills of baseball learned through the experience, the value of the Little League Challenger Division is found in the proven therapeutic and socialization benefits of participating in sports; the strengthening of participants’ self-esteem; the opportunities to mainstream into other divisions of play and the disciplines of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play, which are hallmarks of the Little League program. The Little League Challenger Division provides the framework so Little League programs may offer a structured, athletic activity for all youth in their communities. Playing with the same equipment on the same fields, Challenger Division participants have the opportunity to experience the joys of pulling together as a team, being cheered, and earning awards for their achievements.

One of the benefits of having a Challenger Division is that it encourages the use of "buddies" for the Challenger players. The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field, but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make plays themselves. However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed.

Parents and teenagers are strongly encouraged to become involved in this uniquely-rewarding division of Little League. After completing a Little League volunteer application and passing a required national background check, teenagers may become buddies, while parents may become involved in practices, and be eligible as coaches, managers, umpires, local league board members and other volunteer positions within the league. 

FAQ's:

How does my league start a Challenger program?

Individuals interested in starting a Challenger program in their community, should contact Amu Frahn, Director of the Challenger Division in District 28 at amy.frahn@ca28littleleague.org.

What additional equipment will my league need to operate a Challenger program?

No additional equipment is necessary. Each individual child may use his or her own equipment just like children who play in other divisions of Little League. However, leagues have the option to adjust equipment to accommodate individual challenges, such as using a lighter and smaller bat for children who cannot use an aluminum or wooden bat.

Do Challenger games have to be played on a special field?

No, a special field is not necessary to operate a Challenger program.

Challenger games are played on a standard Little League field. However, some communities choose to build wheelchair-friendly synthetic fields specifically for the Challenger program.

What resources will Little League International provide to my league if we charter and operate a Challenger program?

Little League provides rule books, brochures, posters and a DVD to anyone operating, or interested in operating a Challenger program in their league. In addition, staff at Little League International is available to answer any questions.

Does Little League offer financial assistance to local leagues interested in establishing a Challenger program?

New Challenger programs have the opportunity to apply through Little League International for a grant from "Teammates for Kids” ranging from 500 to $5,000, depending upon the number of children in the program

How much does it cost to operate a Challenger program?

The Challenger Division can be operated at the same cost as any other division of Little League.

Does my league have to purchase additional insurance in order to operate a Challenger program?

No, the insurance cost for a Challenger program would be the same as the cost for other divisions of Little League Baseball and Softball.

 

Little League Challenger Division Information