Dumfries District Little League: Challenger Division

Little League Baseball for Kids with Disabilities

The Challenger Division provides boys and girls with physical or mental disabilities, ages 5 to 18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school, an opportunity to play baseball regardless of their limitations. This affords these children the opportunity to experience the emotional development and fun of playing Little League Baseball. This Division of the League is a supervised, volunteer based, non competitive structured athletic program. We are sanctioned and insured by Little League Headquarters in Williamsport, PA. Inaugurated in 1989, Challenger Baseball is chartered by the United States Congress as an educational program.

Many special needs children have few opportunities to play side by side with non-challenged peers. In establishing an inclusive baseball program, we are providing a positive, fun setting with role models for age appropriate behavior. This helps to build self-esteem, confidence and acceptance as well as helping to establish strong on-going bonds of friendship and understanding between Little Leaguers and Challenger children in an environment of sharing and caring. While providing the opportunity to socialize, the children learn proper cooperative behaviors such as taking turns, sorting out problems, game strategy, independence, sportsmanship and working together as a team.

All games are non-competitive. The season will be kicked off with an opening ceremony. All players will receive a full uniform, the necessary equipment to safely play the game, team pictures and a closing ceremony.

One of the most positive aspects of the Challenger Division is a volunteer program that uses “buddies” during play. A buddy can be a Little League Baseball player, friend, brother or sister, relative or even a parent. Buddies help assist their Challenger partner on the field with any aspect of the game. They may help push wheelchair-bound children around the field, they might help hold the bat so a player can hit the ball, they may assist in catching the ball, they may assist in throwing the ball or they may just be there to lend support and encouragement. This interaction has proven to be a positive mutually rewarding experience for all the children involved as the Challenger players enjoy the thrill of participation and their "buddies" experience first-hand the challenges these children face in their daily lives. The volunteer program also serves as a respite for those parents of special needs children and allows them to watch their children enjoy the game of baseball.

We are always looking for volunteers from within the community that are willing to come to the games and partner up with our challenger players as a Buddy. To fully support the Challenger schedule, we need game announcers, "Buddies" for the field, and concession stand workers. If you are interested in helping with this program, please contact Michelle Slaughter at 703-615-8487 or send an email to Michelle.Slaughter@comcast.net.

Each year DTQLL participates in the Jake Hardison Memorial (JHM) Challenger Jamboree held in Virginia Beach, VA over Mother's Day weekend. More than 57 teams from MD, NC, PA, VA and WV participate in this three day event. This event is more than just a chance for your children to play baseball, but for them to get the chance to participate in tournament play. The tournament atmosphere is festive and exciting and for some children this is their only chance to experience this type of activity.

Funding for the Challenger Division comes from registration fees, contributions, sponsorships and fund raising. The financing needed supplements the cost of uniforms, equipment, awards, training, storage, advertising, special events and mailings. This is a great way to support these children and provide advertising for your company. If you are interested in helping out, download our Sponsorship Form. The Challenger Division is Little Leagues way of providing new opportunities for children with disabilities to enjoy the game of baseball.

For additional information on the DTQLL Challenger Program contact Michelle Slaughter at 703-615-8487 or send an email to Michelle.Slaughter@comcast.net.

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