A few years ago, NTSOC surveyed our community found that many families are looking for recreational activities to do with their loved ones with disabilities. This blog post is the first of many we hope to create to shed light on southern Colorado opportunities. We wanted to introduce you to Challenger Baseball, the Little League’s adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.We had the opportunity to interview Chris Robinson, one of Challenger Baseball’s founders in El Paso County. Liz Robinson also helps to run the Challenger Baseball league. Below is our discussion.
CINDY: Can you describe what Challenger Baseball is?
CHRIS: It’s an opportunity for individuals with intellectual and physical challenges to enjoy the benefits of Little League participation in an environment structured to their abilities.
CINDY: When did Challenger Baseball start?
CHRIS: The Little League Challenger Division® was founded in 1989 at the National level.
CINDY: How long has Challenger Baseball be going on?
CHRIS: The Challenger Division in Colorado Springs started in 2009. We had two teams and about 25 players. Since then, the league has grown to eight teams, and we expect over 100 players this year.
CINDY: What is your favorite part of Challenger Baseball?
CHRIS: Watching a wheelchair slide into third base. That and the smile on our players’ faces, the sincere excitement they demonstrate on the fields and the joy in their parents’ eyes as they sit in the bleachers and watch their children with disabilities be athletes.
CINDY: Have you had any surprises along the way?
CHRIS: Every year, we meet amazing new players and attract new sponsors. The league is healthy and expanding. Community support is fantastic. The surprises at too numerous to list … but one of the best parts of this for Liz and me is when we see our return players a year later, a year older, and excited to play.
CINDY: Are there any new exciting developments to the 2021 year?
CHRIS: This year, we expanded the league by adding a Senior Challenger division for players 15 and up. Up meaning, there is no upper age limit. The best part of this change is that we no longer have to age players out.
CINDY: What would you tell a family that has never participated in Challenger Baseball about joining?
CHRIS: First, know that your child CAN be a player in our league. We can adapt the program to almost any player’s needs. If needed, each player will have a “buddy” on the field to keep them safe and help them play the game. Also, the cost is only $25.00. It’s a great program.
CINDY: Is registration open?
CHRIS: Yes, registration is open until April 30 or until the division is full, whichever comes first. Here is the link: Colorado Springs Little League > MISCELLANEOUS > CSLL- Challenger Baseball.
CINDY: Any parting remarks?
CHRIS: Sign up soon; we are almost full.