Local Challenger League ends first successful season
By Mary Pritchard, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Shrewsbury – Players, buddies, coaches and families from Shrewsbury, Northborough and Millbury gathered to close the season of their Challenger Baseball League at Melican Middle School in Northborough June 21. The game opened with a group singing the National Anthem. Outs and keeping score are not part of this league, designed to simply allow players to enjoy the game of baseball. Every player has the opportunity to hit the ball, run the bases, and field the ball, with the support of their buddies and coaches. The game ended with trophies for all players and a cookout sponsored by the Mark Fidrych Foundation.
This was the first season that Shrewsbury Little League (SLL) organized a Challenger Division for ages 5-18 (to 22 if still in high school) with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Chip Collins, longtime vice president of SLL Softball is now the commissioner of the SLL Challenger Division. Lauren Chenevert said when her son, Cam, played on the SLL team coached by Collins, parents approached her asking how their child with special needs could join. Cam’s positive experience and the interest of other parents inspired Collins to create the Challenger Division in Shrewsbury.
“It has been a goal of mine to organize the Challenger Division for a few years,” said Collins, a special education teacher at Hopkinton High School. “After two successful seasons coaching Cam on a Little League team, the [SLL] Board allowed me to get this league up and running. It’s about breaking down barriers and stereotypes and pushing for inclusion in the community.”
Collins hopes for continued growth of this league for years to come.
“This team and season was absolutely incredible. Thanks to Northborough’s and Millbury’s teams, we were able to be far more successful.”
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