By Carlie Connolly
The Little League Challenger Division baseball program held a meeting in Medicine Hat a few weeks ago to see if there was enough interest in the community for the division to get under way.
“At this point in time, we are moving ahead with it,” said Brian Stehr, Director for Medicine Hat Little League Challenger Division.
They will be putting together a challenger program for this coming year.
The Challenger Division is a division for those kids with mental and physical challenges, giving them a chance to play ball. They will have a buddy system, and the goal of little league is to have others on the little league be their buddies.
“Our intent is to have all kids get to bat, there is no outs, there is no keeping scores, its just about getting the kids out playing ball,” said Stehr.
The program is open to ages 4 to 18 years of age, or as long as they are enrolled in high school.
They will be holding demo days, which is a chance for anybody to come out and see if they like it and want to take part in it.
Stehr said the goal is to have a minimum of two games this year, but that they will hold more if there is more interest.
The first game is geared for the middle of May this year.
The idea kind came together as Medicine Hat was awarded the 2007 Canadian Major Championships and part of that bid was that they would have a challenger game during that week. And so, this is the first year for the Challenger Division in Medicine Hat Little League.
Through Little League International, it’s played in 10 countries with over 30,000 athletes in the Challenger Division but it’s an entirely new program for the Hat.
“This is something that has been wanted to be done at the local level for a while,” he said.
The numbers in Redcliff of those identified with physical and mental challenges surprised Stehr, and he said that the reactions from the community on getting the program going has been incredible.
The games would be taking place at the diamond in Redcliff and will be used just for this division. Teams will consist of 9 to 15 players, with every player getting to play and go out on the field to bat.
It’s all free of charge this year as long as the players register with Medicine Hat Little League for insurance purposes.
This isn’t just limited to Medicine Hat and Redcliff kids, but also to any in Medicine Hat Little League District 4. This can be anywhere from as far west as Bow Island, all the way to the Alberta border, as far north as south Saskatchewan and as far south right down to the Montana border.