The North Delta Baseball Association is giving kids with disabilities a chance to try the sport ahead of the start of the new season.
Challenger Baseball program is non-competitive and focused on giving kids with cognitive or physical disabilities a chance to “to enjoy the full benefits of participation in baseball at a level structured to their abilities,” according to the association’s website.
A pair of clinics — one earlier this month and one in March — act as a kind of “try it before you buy it” event where kids get to swing a bat and toss a ball around to get a feel for whether they want to play come spring.
“The focus is on fun and providing an environment where participants can play at their own level of ability, with the supports they need, and yet still play as part of a team experience,” explained Challenger Division representative Sheryl Gray in an email. Gray runs the program and has a son with Down syndrome who takes part in the league.
“As a parent, it’s a tough balance to keep your child together with their peer group in school or other community activities, and to also provide opportunities where they can succeed on their own terms, and relax and enjoy themselves without trying to meet unrealistic expectations.”
On Sunday, Feb. 10, eight kids and their parents braved the snowstorm and came out to the inaugural try-it session at Immaculate Conception School to see what the program is all about. The North Delta Baseball Association’s Challenger Baseball division operates seasonally just like any other league, except that players are not competing for rankings.
“Playing Challenger gets them wearing a ball cap in springtime like so many other kids, but takes the stress out of the weekly game for both the players and the parents,” Gray said.
The upcoming Challenger season commences April 7 and runs until June 16. Registration for the team is ongoing until the season starts and costs $50 per player.
The next free try-it session will be held on Sunday, March 10, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Immaculate Conception School (8840 119th St.). More information can be found on the North Delta Baseball Association website (ndbaseball.com).