This spring, Orange Little League is offering an opportunity for children with special needs to play on a baseball team, the Challenger League. In the past, those young boys and girls wishing to play on a team tailored for their special needs had to travel to Milford or other neighboring towns until a group of local parents decided it was time to offer a team of their own here in Orange.
The team will be open to boys and girls ages 6 -18 years old who live in or attends school in Orange, Woodbridge and Bethany. They’ll practice one day a week and have a two-inning game each weekend where each player will be at bat and play the field. The intent is to give boys and girls with physical and mental challenges the opportunity to enjoy the game of baseball.
John Porto has taken on the role of vice president for the Challenger team. He looks forward to giving kids the chance to ‘play baseball in a relaxed environment’. “It will be great to give these kids a chance to be on a team and learn the great game of baseball,” Porto said. He’ll work with Kathy Haughton on organizing the team and scheduling games with surrounding towns.
“The division is growing, there’s much more competition and many more teams then there were before,” Haughton said. Her son Christopher, 12, has played on the Milford Challenger team for the past couple of years, but she thought that Orange should have a team of its own. She felt the demographics and population support fielding a team of our own.
As adaptive sports are becoming more common at the middle and high school levels, Haughton thought Little League presented the perfect opportunity to let children with special needs to as their brothers and sisters do each weekend: play ball. “The important part of this is getting kids out to exercise and socialize. It’s a great opportunity for kids to be a part of a community activity. It’s just good for them,” she said.
Porto will be looking for mentor baseball players to help out at games and practices. “They have a lot of knowledge to pass on,” he said. The team will play on OT2, the softball team at Old Tavern Field. The program will last for 6-8 weeks.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent