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 4-26, 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, Dsitrict 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, or a combination of the two. Challenger Little League enables every child the opportunity to participate in a structured, athletic program which helps to strengthen his or her 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 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 child with physically, mentally, emotionally and/or educational challenges.

In a Challenger game, each player gets a chance at bat. The side is retired when the offense has batted through the roster. Each teams skill level determines if other elements to the game will be added, such as fielding and player outs. The National Little League recommends that no score be kept during Challenger games. Every Challenger player wears the same uniform as other Little League players. The season consists of 7 games, culminates with a trophy presentation for all players and recognition of our sponsors and buddies. Team and individual pictures will also be taken prior to the start of the season's play.

Maps & Directions

Games are played at the Milwood League Fields

3500 Lovers Ln, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Frequently Asked Questions

Games are played on the Ryan Walker field, at the Milwood Little League Field, located directly off the Handicap accessible parking area at far east end of the lot.

The games last about 1.5 hours. All parents are REQUIRED to remain at the field at all times during games and practice to support their player.

Helmets are provided to each team in a variety of sizes. If a player prefers and/or needs to have their own helmet, parents will be required to provide it.

Beginner Level: Players are assigned Buddies for assistance in throwing, fielding, batting and running the bases.

Intermediate Level: Players are encouraged to be independent by running the bases with little assistance (as necessary). Although, batting off of the "T" is allowed.

Advanced Level: Game play follows closely to the traditional rules of baseball. Players are expected to play, bat and run the bases independently.

The fields are level and well-manicured. Handicap accessible parking is available directly in front of Ryan Walker field. A paved walkway leads to each dugout. Wheelchairs and/or walkers are encouraged for any player with mobility challenges. Buddies will be assigned to support a player's mobility needs. Baseball "T's" are available at the beginning and intermediate level.

Practices are scheduled weekly for players. The Beginner Level and Intermediate Level teams practice together with the Advance Level practicing separately. Players will be at bat for a period of time with the remaining players located on the infield and out field. Again, parents are REQUIRED to remain at the field at all times during games and practice to support their player.

Games are played on Friday evenings (Advanced Level) and Saturday mornings (Beginner and Intermediate). Beginning the first weekend after Opening Day until the last weekend in June. There are no games played on Memorial Day weekend.

None. We are funded by Sponsorships and the Annual Player fees. Occasionally, the Challenger Little League will sell T-shirts and/or Hoodies for a few dollars above cost to raise money, which is organized by the Board Members of Challenger Little League. The Challenger Board also works with the Battle Creek Bombers and the Kalamazoo Growlers to set up fun family fun nights, where they donate back to our organization. No one is required to sell candy and/or other items door to door.

Games are scheduled to begin on time. We encourage you to arrive at the ballpark at least 15 minutes before the game to allow your player some transition and "warm-up" time. As soon as your family arrives, your player should enter the field area and check in with one of the coaches. If your player's Buddy is not present, a coach will assist you in finding another adult, if available. If one is not available, you will need to assist your player on and off the field.

We understand that it is much more fun to hit the ball than to stand out on the field and wait for a ball to be hit to you. If your player does not want to go out to the field during the defensive part of the inning, they will not be able to bat the next inning. We are trying to teach our players the entire game of baseball, not just parts to pick and choose what they would enjoy. This is another reason that we require parents/guardians to stay at the field, to assist the Coach or the Buddy when issues like this may arise.

The coaches are on the field at all times or behind the plate. This is where the Buddy becomes so important. The Buddy will help the player bat, whether pitched to or hitting off of a tee. In the Beginner Level and Intermediate Level, each player gets five pitches from their coach to try to hit. After those five pitches, the batting "T" is brought out so the game keeps going in a timely manner. The Buddy also helps the player in the field to assist in catching the ball. If the ball is hit towards a player and they do not make an attempt to field the ball, the Buddy stops the ball with their foot and encourages the player to get the ball and throw it to the appropriate base. Players with severe impairments will have the Buddy pick up the ball, place it in their glove, then take the ball and throw it for their players, giving the player a sense of actually fielding the ball.

Check our website at www.challengerkalamazoo.com. Or call the Challenger Kalamazoo weather phone: (269)271-9100 Coaches will NOT be contacting parents/guardians for any cancellations.

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