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Challenger Little League Brings Kids Home
Posted on March 24, 2012
You can expect a lot of cheering at Challenger Little League games,” says Mark Waters, a Rancho Penasquitos Little League Coach and Board Member. “When a player really smacks the ball, the crowd goes wild.”
Challenger Little League is a part of the Rancho Penasquitos Little League program that welcomes players from ages 5-22 with disabilities to play baseball. Each player on a Challenger team has a buddy that runs bases with him/her, helps make plays in the field and gives direction and motivation. “As a coach, the most rewarding part of the Challenger program is watching how each player and his/her buddy interact during the game,” says Waters, who coaches two Challenger Little League teams, the Thunder Pandas and the Sunwolves, in addition to coaching a Little League Majors team and two travel teams.
About three years ago, Waters became involved in the Challenger program and began recruiting families to join the Rancho Penasquitos Challenger league. “It’s a huge success. We now have over 30 players,” says Waters, who adds they recently passed an initiative making Challenger baseball free to all who sign up.
According to Waters, the Challenger teams in the league are made up of local kids, as well as kids from all over San Diego. “This year, Little League granted a waiver to allow all kids to play in the Challenger program regardless of their residence. Now, no matter where they live, there is a team out there for them,” says Waters.
Waters is quick to thank everyone who helps with the Challenger league, including parents, volunteers, the Community Coaching Center and especially all the Little League teams that buddy up with the Challenger teams. “It is heartwarming and often brings a tear to your eye as you laugh and cheer at the same time. Coaching Challenger Little League teams help me to remember why I love the game of baseball so much. There’s no winning or losing – just fun and great kids,” says Waters.