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Enjoy Magazine

Q97 Snapshot: Play Ball

05/27/2014 12:00AM ● By Billy Pilgrim
By: Billy Pilgrim

Every Saturday in the spring at the beautiful Shasta Dam Area Little League fields, baseball magic happens for boys and girls in the Challenger Division of Little League. For 25 years, the Challenger League has provided opportunities for physically and developmentally challenged boys and girls, ages 5 through 18.

 have coached youth sports for most of my adult life, but I had never been exposed to this wonderful experience until our friends invited us to watch their son play. I was amazed! Kids in wheelchairs, blind kids, kids with developmental disabilities and obvious physical limitations experience the joy of the baseball diamond: the smell of the grass and the earth, the fresh air, and the cheers and applause that go with any baseball game. Everyone gets a shirt and cap, wears a mitt and swings a bat. Kids from traditional Little League teams buddy up with individual kids to help them field, bat and move around the bases. Sometimes the coach pitches, and sometimes the kids hit off of a tee. Everyone gets on base and scores at home plate, to the cheers of teammates, parents and volunteers.

Approximately 100 kids participate in these games every Saturday, and in front of crowds that are sometimes larger than a traditional Little League game. And if our schedule allows it, there is no place we’d rather be. Challengers baseball teaches kids that they are all winners and can be part of a team. And it teaches their Little League buddies that anyone can play ball, and to be grateful for everything. It is so sweet to watch these kids work with one another!

Challengers baseball in the City of Shasta Lake would not be possible without the great number of volunteers, parents and sponsors who believe in this program. Special thanks goes out to John Barry and Carol Matheny for all of their efforts. They have been with the program since the beginning.

The season ends in late May with the Challengers Jamboree.It’s a great day of celebrating another wonderful season. Games are played, awards are given out, and the Redding Rodeo Association barbecues for everyone.

Come out and be a part of this wonderful experience some Saturday morning in the spring and root on our buddies Patrick and Tanner and their teammates. Challengers baseball is the coolest thing ever.