Lincoln Little League is going to host an information session about a new division that would provide children with physical or developmental disabilities the opportunity to play baseball.
Lincoln Little League, the Damariscotta-based affiliate of the international Little League organization, serves the towns of Damariscotta, Newcastle, Bremen, Jefferson, Bristol, South Bristol, Nobleboro, Wiscasset, and the Boothbay region.
Lincoln Little League President Paul Miner said his passion for the addition of the division ignited during a backyard football game with family members. One of Miner’s nephews has cerebral palsy and cannot walk, but wanted to participate in the game.
“I carried him on my back, so he was able to play and be a part of the game,” Miner said. “It was a moving experience to see him so happy and being able to play.”
Miner began researching the Challenger Division, a division created in 1989 by Little League as a way to enable children with physical or mental challenges to play baseball. More than 30,000 children participate in Challenger Divisions worldwide.
Currently there are two Challenger Divisions in Maine, in Portland and Ellsworth. After attending a Challenger Division game in Ellsworth, Miner brought the idea to the attention of the Lincoln Little League board. Miner said the board was receptive to the idea, but a lot of work needs to be done in order to make the division a reality.
“We need to see what the interest is and get a feel for how many kids this division would serve,” Miner said. “We would open it up to anyone who wants to play between Portland and Ellsworth, because the Challenger Division doesn’t have the finite league boundaries.”
In the Challenger Division, a buddy is assigned to each player to assist with batting, fielding, and running bases if needed. Miner said the buddy, who is typically a Little League player or a family member, only assists if needed.
“We need to recruit not only for the players, but also buddies,” Miner said. “In order to make this happen, we need help.”
The Challenger Division would not require a modified field or equipment, Miner said. Grants are available to assist with funding, but Miner said he did not foresee any financial struggles as a result of adding the division to Lincoln Little League.
“We have the equipment and the field space, so all we need now are the participants,” Miner said.
Miner will answer any questions about the division at the meeting and gauge the community’s response.
“This isn’t an economic thing to grow our division to make it more profitable,” Miner said. “We’re just trying to make baseball available for every youth in the area.”
The information session about the Challenger Division will be held in the community room at the Newcastle Fire Department Jan. 10, 2016 at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend.