District 8

Challenger's 25th Anniversary - 2014

The Little League Challenger Division celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 2014, which coincided with Little League's Diamond Anniversary.

Several new Challenger initiatives were introduced in 2014:

  • The Senior League Challenger Division was created for players over the age of 15.
  • The program was expanded to allow Challenger players who do not live within a local league's boundary to register in a league within their district or a nearby district.
  • The Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation provided grants to Little League to help Challenger players attend the Jake Hardison Memorial Challenger Jamboree in Virginia Beach as well as a grant to create the Little League Kids Zone in the Susquehanna Health System in Williamsport, PA.
  • Little Leaguer Challengers participated in 26 Challenger Jamborees in the United States and Canada.

"You will never truly experience the joy of baseball and softball until you see a Little League Challenger Division game," said Sam Ranck, Little League Challenger Division Director. "We are so excited about these new opportunities to continue to expand the Challenger Division and give more options to those with physical and developmental challenges the chance to have a meaningful Little League experience."

There are more than 900 Challenger programs in 10 countries, everywhere from Venezuela to Kuwait.

 
Southeast Region Hosts Challenger Teams during 2013 Rgional Tournament

Keeping the tradition alive, Challenger teams from the SE Region were invited to participate in games on the Region Field during the 2013 Regional Tournaments.

 
2013 Georgia Challenger Jamboree

Warner Robins American Little League hosted the 2013 Georgia Challenger Jamboree on May 18. Challenger teams from around the state met to play games and were treated to a luncheon hosted by the league.

 
Southeast Region Hosts Challenger Teams during 2012 Regional Tournament.

Challenger teams from Florida, and Georgia teams fromMilford Little League, District 7 Little League and Warner Robins Little League had the opportunity to play games on the Southeast Region Tournament field during the Opening Day Ceremonies for the 2012 Little League Southeast Region Baseball Tournament.

Members of the Tournament Teams served as buddies for the Challengers. The fans were treated to play-by-play announcing throughout the games.

 
2012 Georgia Challenger Jamboree

Warner Robins American Little League hosted the 2012 Georgia Challenger Jamboree on May 12. Teams from Milford Little League (D2), District 7 and Warner Robins (D5) spent a fun day playing games, eating barbeque and making new friends.

 
2011 Georgia Challenger 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 Little League's Field of Hope, a synthetic field designed for players with disabilities, was the site of the event that welcomed 12 Challenger Division teams from Milford Little League (District 2), Rabun County D7 Little Leagues (District 7) and Peachtree City Little League (District 4).

"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." Fans were entertained by the webcasting wit of the Jeff (Colwell) & Jeff (Lucas) Show - who introduced several guest commentators during the games.

Ray and Louise Nelson, founders and organizers of Guitars Not Guns a non-profit organization that gives guitars and lessons to needy children, also attended the event. Mr. Nelson brought a variety of guitars and helped various players with a little guitar picking between their games. Mr. Nelson also brought his Guitarbike to share with kids. The Guitarbike was built by Mr. Nelson in 1982 and ridden from San Francisco to New York and back as a promotion for his organization. The bike was featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum and was part of the 1982 County Music Award Ceremonies. Players had the opportunity to sit on top of the Guitarbike and have their photos taken.

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.

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."

 
Peachtree City Little League Challenger Team Plays at the Little League World Series - 2005

Imagine a kids' ballgame. A player hits the ball and heads for first base. Imagine teammates cheering. Imagine hundreds of spectators cheering. Now imagine that player is in a wheelchair. Imagine all the players are children with disabilities.

Every year, on a Saturday morning prior to the International and U.S. Little League World Series Championships, two teams from various parts of the country meet at Volunteer Stadium in Williamsport, PA, to play a Challenger Exhibitition game.

What an exciting event! The players have dreamed about the event, the parents have planned the trip - now it's showtime. The players line up for the announcements and then head back to their respective dugouts. Amid cheers from their fans, every child gets up to bat and runs the bases - the same bases the 16 teams in the World Series have rounded for nearly 10 days. Fielders, with help from their buddies, are making plays; it's as close to perfect as it can get. The smiles on the faces of all the players tell the story - Today I am famous, Today I am a World Series contender!

In 2005, a Challenger team from Peachtree City, GA, made the trip to Williamsport to participate in the World Series. They brought back memories that will last a lifetime.