Georgia’s Peachtree City Little League Hosts First Challenger Division State Jamboree
There is a first time for everything, and as the volunteers and participants at the inaugural Georgia State Little League Challenger Jamboree experienced, special moments and memories are what you make of them whenever they come.
Peachtree City (Ga.) Little League was the site of the event that welcomed 12 Challenger Division teams from Georgia Districts 2, 4 and 7.
“The first Georgia State Challenger Jamboree was a great success,” Sam Ranck, Director of the Little League Challenger Division, said. “Julie Haley and many other volunteers worked together to put on a great event that brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of children and parents.”
The Jamboree was played at the Peachtree City Little League complex, which includes the “Field of Hope,” a synthetic field specifically designed for Challenger players.
Games were played by both non-competitive Minor Division teams and competitive Major Division teams. The Minor games utilized buddies and a batting tee, with no score being kept; while the Major games had coaches pitching to players and runs were tallied. Participants in each division were assigned based on the individual player’s ability.
“This event was three years in the making,” Mrs. Haley, Georgia’s Challenger Coordinator, said. “I started the District 7 Challenger program four years ago. After I became involved, our State District Administrators Association appointed me as State Challenger Consultant. I made it my mission to make this event happen.”
The first Jamboree was a learning experience, but Mrs. Haley was motivated to set a firm foundation for the future.
About six years ago, I met a girl in wheelchair,” Mrs. Haley said. “I asked her if she wanted to coach and she said she wanted to play and it became my goal to get her a way to play.
“To start, I was a little scared,” Mrs. Haley said of her appointment as the state’s Challenger Coordinator. “I’d never had a strong association with children with physical and mental disabilities. However, from day one, I realized they are like any other kids, and when you put them on baseball field they have the times of their lives.”
This first Jamboree was a fulfilling and educational experience for Mrs. Haley and her volunteer staff. She acknowledged that the distance traveled by the teams limited the participation by parents, and the players became tired faster than was expected.
“The opportunity for teams to play on the “Field of Hope” a synthetic field specifically constructed for the Challenger Division provided a special experience for many of the players,” Mr. Ranck said. “I look forward to seeing the Georgia Jamboree expand in future years as the Challenger Division continues to grow in Georgia.”
Having this experience behind her, Mrs. Haley is already formulating plans to improve the event for 2012.