Play ball: The Challenger League

Nothing brings the Williamstown community together like a game of baseball

The members of the Challenger League pose for a picture with the Williamstown Braves high school baseball team after the game on May 8.

Lou Gehrig said it best, “There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all.”

On Tuesdays and Saturdays through the spring, the Challenger League will play the wonderful game of baseball at the Church Street complex in Williamstown. The league is for children with disabilities.

Coach Heather Brown has been involved with the league for the past nine years, while the league itself has been around for about 15 years. She gives all credit to Kathy and Mike Keller, who introduced her to the league.

“My daughter has cerebral palsy.” Brown said. “My neighbor was running it [the league] at the time so she encouraged me to bring Sarah out on the field and we started playing. That was nine years ago. That was with Kathy and Mike Keller. They were amazing, they really formed this.”

The Challenger League depends on volunteers. For instance, last Tuesday night, the Williamstown Braves were in attendance to assist Brown. Pat Leighton, a volunteer of more than seven years, was on hand and had nothing but great things to say about his time as a volunteer.

“We want to show them how to play baseball the right way and have fun,” Leighton said. “It brings a lot of baseball players out to help with the kids who don’t have a chance to play in the town league. They get to come out here, play, and have a good time.”

Bo Cancelliere, another member of the Braves, enjoyed his time as an active volunteer.

“All you have to do is have fun with everybody and treat everybody the same,” Cancelliere said. “It’s a good image for Williamstown. It’s good to have your town know you include everybody.”

The Williamstown Fire Department will be at a game next week to volunteer.

“Jim DeHart reached out to us and said they want to volunteer,” Brown said. “I think it’s amazing, the kids are going to go nuts. It brings the community together. I owe it all to the parents for raising children who want to help.”

Since Brown took control of the League, she’s seen a steady increase in players. She’s gone from having 13, to 18, to 28 this season. Her goal is to eventually grow the team so they can split into two or eventually travel to other communities to play their Challenger League teams.

Brown’s team has children from ages 4 to 18. She accepts all children, from those with ADHD to cerebral palsy and anything in between. Brown also accepts children from outside the district, so it’s not exclusive to Williamstown. The most important thing to her is that the kids are having fun.

“I just want them to have fun and say ‘I play ball.’” Brown said. “The kids are active, they’re out playing a sport, they’re not at home on the computer, it gets them out and running around and having a good time.”

For more information visit the Monroe Township Little League website or email Heather Brown at HeatheraBrown1974@gmail.com