The Challenger Division was established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League to enable boys and girls with special needs, ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school, to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Today more than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide.
More than the skills of baseball learned through the experience, the value of the Little League Challenger Division is found in the proven therapeutic and socialization benefits of participating in sports, the strengthening of participants’ self-esteem, the opportunities to mainstream into other divisions of play, and the disciplines of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play, which are hallmarks of the Little League program.
The Little League Challenger Division provides the framework so Little League programs may offer a structured, athletic activity for all youth in their communities. Playing with the same equipment on the same fields, Challenger Division participants have the opportunity to experience the joys of pulling together as a team, being cheered, and earning awards for their achievements.
In a Challenger game, each player gets a chance at bat. The side is retired when the offense has batted through the roster, or when a pre-determined number of runs have been scored, or when three outs are recorded. Little League recommends that no score be kept during Challenger games. The Challenger players wear the same uniforms, shoulder patches and safety equipment as other Little League players.
Teams are set up according to abilities, rather than age, and can include as many as 15-20 players. Challenger games can be played as t-ball games, coach pitch, player pitch, or a combination of the three.
One of the benefits of having a Challenger Division is that it encourages the use of "buddies" for the Challenger players. The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make plays themselves. However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed.
Newark Little League has had a Challenger program for over a decade. Our team name is the Mariners. NLL's Challenger team plays games against Fremont Centerville Little League.