Riverside Little League of Riverside, R.I., and Freehold Township Little League of Freehold, N.J., will participate in this year’s Little League Challenger Division® Exhibition Game, to be held during the 2017 Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa., on August 26. The game will air live as it plays at 10:30 a.m. on WSBE Rhode Island PBS, digital 36.1. The station will rebroadcast the challenger game on Sunday morning, September 3 at 9:30, on WSBE Learn, digital 36.2.
“We at Rhode Island PBS are proud to air this exciting special that shines a well-deserved spotlight on the good work by the players, coaches, volunteers, and parents of the Riverside Little League Challenger Division,” said Rhode Island PBS President David W. Piccerelli. “We offer our best wishes to our local team of youngsters for a fun and rewarding Little League World Series experience.”
The Little League Challenger Division, part of the Little League Baseball World Series schedule since 2001, provides opportunities to more than 30,000 children with physical and intellectual challenges at more than 900 leagues worldwide. 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.
About the 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 children the 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 - 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."
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 he had as a child to participate in Little League Baseball. It is an experience Mr. Conley thoroughly enjoyed, having been coached by his father and brother in Riverside Little League. Since the division’s beginning, the program has expanded to offer this special opportunity to a variety of children with a wide spectrum of physical and developmental challenges, and four of Ethan’s classmates play on the same team with him.
About the 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. With 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.
Sources: WVIA Pennsylvania public television, and the Little League Baseball World Series (www.llbws.org)