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Long Island Challengers Step Up To The Plate

Baseball is America’s pastime and should be enjoyed by everyone, including children with special needs.

That has been the thrust of Long Island Challenger Baseball since it was established in 1989 -- to give physically and mentally challenged children from across the island the opportunity to play baseball in an environment structed to their abilities.

And those abilities will be on display at the Long Island Challenger Baseball Jamboree at John J. Burns Park on Merrick Road in Massapequa, Sunday Oct. 13. The special event will bring together challenger teams from through the island and outside of the state.

“I am so pleased that the Town of Oyster Bay will host the 3rd Annual Long Island Challenger Baseball Jamboree,” said Supervisor John Venditto. “Challenger Baseball is a terrific program that enables children with special needs to enjoy all of the fun that comes with playing baseball.”

Little leagues and athletic associations throughout Long Island that annually participate in the Jamboree include Plainview, East Meadow, Massapequa, Lindenhurst, Roslyn, Sachem and Merillon.

The league enables boys and girls with physical and mental challenges, 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 upwards of 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide. 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 tee ball games, coach pitch, player pitch, or a combination of the three.

According to Al Friese, commissioner of the Massapequa Coast Little League’s Challenger Division, teams across Long Island and one from New Jersey are expected to participate in the Jamboree. There will also be games, inflatable rides and food for everyone in attendance. Registration begins at noon and opening ceremonies commence at 12:45 p.m. At 3 p.m., there will be Magic by John Lepre, to amaze and entertain all who attend.

Friese said that “Buddies” are utilized for the benefit of Challenger players.

“The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field, but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make the play themselves,” Friese said. “However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed. Parents and teenagers are frequently asked to be ‘buddies’ and find the experience to be uniquely-rewarding.”

After completing a Little League volunteer application and passing a required national background check, teenagers may become buddies, while parents may become involved in practices, and be eligible as coaches, managers, umpires, local league board members and other volunteer positions within the league.

Venditto indicated that the Town’s long history of supporting Challenger Baseball was a strong factor in being selected to host the 2013 Long Island Challenger Baseball Jamboree.

“There’s no question of our commitment to youngsters with special needs,” Venditto said. “We’re proud to host the Jamboree, but more importantly, we are proud of the youngsters who will participate. Their ability to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of their dreams is an inspiration to us all.”

The supervisor also said the field at Burns park was specifically designed accommodate special needs players.

“The Town of Oyster Bay created their first dedicated field at John J. Burns Park to meet the special needs of the players with features such as synthetic turf, which offers a stable, uniform and shock-absorbing playing surface. Since then, we have added two additional fields suitable for the Challenger Division,” he said. “The turf has the bases and pitcher’s mound marked on the surface and not raised. This enables safer and easier mobility for walkers and wheelchairs. In addition, the field has wider gate openings to accommodate wheelchairs, cement pads to facilitate access onto the field and nearby restroom access.”

News

Driving rain and cold temperatures could not keep Long Islanders from coming out to support the first annual DogFest Walk ‘n Roll, a fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence. Held for the first time at Marjorie Post Park in nearby Massapequa, dogs of all breeds and sizes came with their humans with one goal in mind; to raise funds for CCI.

 

Event organizer Yvonne Dagger, past president and now board member, discussed the importance of the event. 

It’s been more than 50 years since the Farmingdale High School class of 1964 roamed the halls of their beloved high school, but that doesn’t mean that the memories have faded. The class—the first to graduate from Farmingdale High—came together on Saturday, October 18 at the Marriott in Islandia to celebrate all of the good times past and make new memories as a class.  


Sports

3rd Grade Division

The Giants and Jets met for the 2nd time this season, with the Giants again getting the victory over the Jets.  Jalen Gordon scored late into the 1st half for the Giants, which turned out to be the only points in the half.  The Giants shut the Jets down for both halves, keeping the offense off the board.  The Jets strong point this weekend was the defense, with Kyle June and Jake Kuller picking up the weekly William June Foundation awards.  In what is turning into a rough offensive season for the Jets, these awards continue to remind the boys of the perseverance and determination of the award’s namesake and his “never say quit” attitude.

 

—Submitted by Paul Caputo


William Merola, a member of the Farmingdale School District’s wrestling program, was recently selected to attend the third annual U.S. Marine Corps Summer Leadership and

Character Development program, which is limited to 150 sophomores and juniors throughout the nation.

 

Over the summer, from July 20-26, Merola attended the third annual Marine Corps recruiting command summer leadership and character academy at the USMC base in Quantico. 

 

The SLCDA (Summer Leadership and Character Development Program) educates high school leaders about Marine Corps Officer Programs by participating in classroom academics, ethics training, accelerated college prep, physical fitness training, a field exercise, a community service component and a field trip to Washington, D.C.


Calendar

Networking Event - October 29

Halloween Parade - October 31

Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com