By Debra Roberts, Contributing Writer
Northborough – It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning as the Northborough Challenger League celebrated the end of a second season. The Challenger Division is a separate division of Little League that pairs up boys and girls with physical and mental challenges with “buddies” so that they too may enjoy the game of baseball.
Buddies and coaches arrived early at the Robert E. Melican Middle School to fire up the barbecue grills. On the two fields in use there was no shortage of smiles, high-fives and hugs. Buddies from Melican and Algonquin Regional High School assisted the players and cheered them on. Former Challenger League player from last year, Leah Toronto, who became a buddy this year, opened the game by singing the National Anthem.
The league, in just its second year, has become so popular that each week they have used two fields to accommodate all of the players. According to Northborough Head Coach Jim Furlong, the Challenger League has doubled since last season and on June 13 the fields and stands were packed.
They played two innings on each field and every player batted and scored twice as family and friends cheered them on. On one field Andrew Roberts and Harvey Kandola shared the microphone to announce the teammates as they stepped up to the plate. After the games, players and coaches shook hands and then gathered at home plate. Furlong called up each of the Northborough players to proudly receive their end-of-the-year trophies as all in attendance applauded their achievements.
Afterward, the celebrations continued with free barbecue, courtesy of the Fidrych Foundation, who also funds the league. The Challenger League will take the summer off but return in the fall to start their second basketball season followed by the second indoor soccer season in the winter.
For more information about the Challenger League, contact Allie Lane at Northborough Recreation at 508-393-5034 or [email protected].