About Challenger Little League

Our players are special;
Every player is given the chance to:
stand on first base, run the bases,
catch a fly ball and live the dream of Baseball.


Challenger Little League began in 1989 by Edgar Beardsley while playing catch with his son and four disabled children. The Little League officially took on the idea of Challenger in 1989, headed by Senator Robert Dole. The Challenger Division was established in 1989 as a separate division of The National Little League to enable boys and girls with physical and/or mental challenges, ages 6-26, to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Word spread quickly about this new program and today more than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide.

Our Kalamazoo, Division 2, Challenger Little League began in 1987. Teams are set up according to abilities, rather than age, and can include as many as 15-20 players. Challenger games can be played as t-ball games, coach pitch, player pitch, or a combination of the three. Challenger Little League enables every child the opportunity to participate in a structured, athletic program which helps to strengthen their self-esteem, creates another opportunity to mainstream into other divisions of play, and instills the disciplines of teamwork, citizenship and fair play – which are hallmarks of the National Little League Program – regardless of the ability.

One of the benefits of a Challenger Division is 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. The Challenger Division also helps to establish strong bonds of friendship and understanding between Challenger players and their Buddies. For the Saturday teams, these "Buddies" help their challenged player by acting as guides for visually impaired players, pushing wheelchair bound players around the bases or just being with their Buddy to assist in hitting and running the bases. The interaction has proven to be a positive experience for everyone involved as Challenger players enjoy the thrill of participation and the "Buddies" experience first-hand, the challenges these players face in their daily lives. Having a "Buddy" enables the parents to sit in the stands to cheer their child on as well as to network with each other about their daily struggles and accomplishments in raising a challenged child whether physically, mentally, emotionally or educationally.

In a Challenger game, each player gets a chance at bat. The side is retired when the offense has batted through the roster, or when a pre-determined number of runs have been scored, or when three outs are recorded. At these levels, everyone gets first base, there are no outs and score is not kept, making every player feel like a winner. The National Little League recommends that no score be kept during Challenger games. Every Challenger player wears the same uniform, shoulder patches and safety equipment as other Little League players. The season consists of 7 games, culminates with a trophy presentation for all players and recognition for each Buddy. Team and individual pictures will also be taken prior to the start of the season's play.

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© 2011 Challenger Little League of Kalamazoo