Jake Hardison to Be Immortalized with Renaming of Challenger Little League Baseball World Jamboree
Virginia District 8 will host the Jake Hardison Memorial Challenger Jamboree, May 10-12, 2013, at the Azalea Little League Complex in Norfolk, Va.
Formally known as the “Challenger Little League Baseball World Jamboree,” this weekend-long event will feature an additional sense of pride and accomplishment, as it is re-named in honor of its late founder - Jake Hardison. More than 1,000 children with developmental and physical challenges are expected to participate in this year.
Mr. Hardison, a resident of Virginia Beach, Va., who passed away last year at the age of 85, was a Little League volunteer for 50 years. He served as the District Administrator for Virginia District 8 from 1975 to 2010.
“Mr. Hardison worked tirelessly for a half-century on behalf of children he came in contact with and the game of baseball,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “He positively touched the lives of thousands of children and Little League volunteers around the world through his efforts. Mr. Hardison was the epitome of what a Little League volunteer is and why they are the backbone of our organization. To honor his legacy by attaching his name to this wonderful weekend is fitting and well-deserved.”
In 1992, Mr. Hardison organized and held the first Challenger Tournament and Fun Weekend in Norfolk, with 16 teams participating. By 2006, the event had grown to the point the Little League International Board of Directors approved the re-designation of the event to the Challenger Little League Baseball World Jamboree. In 2006, more than 80 teams participated in the first jamboree. This year more than 100 teams are expected to take part in games, tours, picnics and other special events.
“Mr. Hardison played a vital role in increasing the visibility and growth of Little League’s Challenger Division,” Sam Ranck, the League Development Manager and Director of the Challenger Division for Little League, said. “His vision in 1992 has turned into the centerpiece event of the Challenger Division and one of the top annual events in the Little League organization. Without his hard work, the Challenger Division would not be in the position it is today. It is a distinct privilege to have his name permanently attached to this outstanding event.”
During the course of his efforts on behalf of Little League, Mr. Hardison earned numerous awards. Mr. Hardison, a former police officer, received the Little League Meritorious Service Award in 1998, for his work as a District Administrator and in 2004, was the recipient of the Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award, which is an award at each Little League International Congress that recognizes the special efforts of an individual who has embraced the ideals of Little League.
In 2000, Mr. Hardison, who served as the Chairman of the 2004 Little League International Congress in Virginia Beach, received the Little League Challenger Award for his efforts on behalf of that program.
People outside the Little League organization also realized the contributions of Mr. Hardison to the game of baseball. In 2008, Old Dominion University recognized Mr. Hardison by naming him the recipient of the Bud Metheny Award. The award is given for outstanding service to baseball, in particular youth baseball and is named for the former ODU baseball coach who won more than 400 games in 31 years of coaching.
In 1989, Little League launched its Challenger Division to provide children with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy and participate in the game of baseball. Disabled children from the ages of 4 -18 are eligible to participate. Challenger baseball features “buddies” who help their partners by assisting the players when needed.
All the details about the Jamboree, including information on how your league can take part, can be found here. Teams are currently registering, and to date, four teams from outside the United States have committed to attending the Jamboree.
Other statewide Jamborees also will be held this year. To check if there is a Challenger Jamboree scheduled near you, view the listing here.
In 2012, more than 2,000 teams and nearly 31,000 children participated in the Little League Challenger Division.