Freehold Township Little League (Freehold, N.J.) and Riverside Little League (Riverside, R.I.) have officially been announced as the participating teams for the 2017 Little League Challenger Division® Exhibition Game, which will be held during the 2017 Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa., on August 26.
“The Challenger Division Exhibition Game is one of the highlight events held each year during Championship Weekend at the Little League Baseball World Series and we are excited to welcome these two programs to participate this year,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to share this exciting day with all of the coaches, players, buddies, parents, and volunteers of each of the programs and hope they have a chance to enjoy their Little League World Series experience.”
About the Teams:
Freehold Township (N.J.) Little League
Freehold Township Little League is celebrating its 25th anniversary of the creation of its Challenger Division program, which after starting with a group of only 39 players has since developed into a league that offers approximately 135 players the opportunity to play on nine chartered teams. Over the course of its existence, Freehold Township Little League Challenger Division has held a focus on “dream fulfillment” with the adoption of its theme song “The Impossible Dream,” helping to share with all its members that everything is possible if you try hard and are in an environment to carry them out.
“The Freehold Township Little League has a long-standing history and commitment to Little League across all divisions,” said Mike LaCava, Freehold Township Little League President. “Having attended last year’s Challenger Division Exhibition Game, I could not think of a more fitting place for us to culminate our Challenger Program's 25th anniversary besides Williamsport. We are very honored and grateful to Little League for this opportunity.”
A program that is made up of approximately 35 coaches and 135 buddies, Freehold Township Little League has developed a regional network of athletes, coaches, parents, and buddies that offers opportunities for members of neighboring towns that do not run Challenger programs to join their league. The volunteers for Freehold Township Little League have been the backbone of the league, with 80 percent of buddies returning each year to work with the same athletes as the preceding year and a waiting list has been created for new buddies to volunteer each season.
“Our Challenger athletes are climbing uphill every day to overcome various obstacles,” said Alan Goldstein, Freehold Township Little League Challenger Program Director. “Now they have now reached the top of the hill by getting the fabulous opportunity to play ball at the center of the Little League universe, namely Williamsport! We are all honored.”
Riverside (R.I.) Little League
Established in 2008, the Riverside Little League Challenger Division has served as a program for youth with intellectual and physical challenges to enjoy the full benefits of participating in an athletic environment, structured to their abilities. During the course of the program’s nearly 10 years of existence, Riverside Little League Challenger Division has offered therapeutic and socialization benefits of participating in sports, athletic interaction with the children’s peers, the strengthening of the participants self-esteem, the opportunities to mainstream into other divisions of play, the disciplines of teamwork, sportsmanship, and fair play, and the opportunity to enable players to maximize their potential and abilities.
“It is an honor for the Riverside Little League to be selected to participate in this game,” said Tim Conley, Riverside Little League Challenger Division Vice President. “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our players to participate in this exhibition game in Williamsport, PA - home of the Little League World Series. Riverside Little League is very proud of its support of the Challenger Division and to have the opportunity to participate in this event is a landmark event for our league, Board of Directors, players, volunteers, and parents."
The Riverside Little League Challenger Division was originally started by Mr. Conley so that his son, Ethan, who was born with a very rare condition known as prune belly syndrome, would have the opportunity to participate in Little League Baseball, an experience that Mr. Conley thoroughly enjoyed as a child where he was coached by his father and brother in Riverside Little League. Since then, the program now offers a variety of children with a wide spectrum of physical and developmental challenges this unique opportunity and four of Ethan’s classmates now play on the same team with him.
About the Little League Challenger Division® Exhibition Game
The 2017 Little League Challenger Division® Exhibition Game will take place at the Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., on Saturday, August 26, at 10:30 a.m. and showcase the opportunities that the Little League Challenger Division provides to more than 30,000 children with physical and intellectual challenges at more than 900 leagues worldwide.
The Little League Challenger Division Exhibition Game has been a part of the Little League Baseball World Series schedule since 2001. Little League International supports the participating leagues with a $15,000 grant to help offset the costs for the teams to participate in the Exhibition Game.