Last summer, our son played Challenger Baseball for the first time.  To be honest, our son really struggled hitting and catching the ball but he had a great time playing baseball. He felt successful and that was all that mattered to us. Each time he hit that ball (with or without help), we applauded like he had hit a home run.  The best part was the other families cheered him on too!  It was such a safe and positive experience for our son and for us as his parents.  In addition, we really enjoyed getting to know the other families on our team.  The games were an outing that our family looked forward to each weekend.  Challenger Baseball was a great experience for us that we look forward to again this summer.  

Mom of a 9-year-old Challenger

Being a part of a baseball team.  Competition and compassion.  Nail biting and pride.  Seeing the kids in their uniforms.  Watching the siblings cheer the players.  Hearing the players cheer each other.   Spontaneous applause when a ball is hit.  Spectators of both teams cheering a player’s success.  Families gathering for the games.  Player volunteers from other teams guiding and supporting Challenger players.  Bonds formed.  Team spirit.  Interaction.  A player singing the National Anthem.  Team pictures.  Hot dogs.  Celebrating the game.  Every player on the team plays.  A team picnic.  Memories.  Watching players learn about the sport throughout the season.  Fans and sportsmanship.  Missing is the W and the L at the end of the game and that is a good thing. 
Grandma Janet

A couple of years ago I was looking for a volunteer opportunity for my older children.  When I learned about the Challenger Baseball program, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity as my boys were both ball players.  Understanding that a big part of the program relies on buddy volunteers, we reached out to the players on our son's team to see if anyone else might be interested and they all were!  We were so touched by the Challenger players that day and knew this was something we wanted to continue being a part of and even volunteered again that fall at their Jamboree event. Everyone on our team enjoyed helping out and wanted to make sure we included that on our baseball calendar for the following season.  The next year, we also reached out to the Varsity baseball coach at our high school to see if he might be interested in having the team get involved.  He agreed, and we had 50+ St. Charles North Star baseball players and an additional 12 players from my younger son's North Stars team at Ruzicka field for the day.
One of our special memories from volunteering with Challenger Baseball was after our first buddy experience, and the games and hot dogs were over, a few of our players went over to an empty field with a couple of the players from the Challenger team for a little pick up game of baseball.  Another time, after our game at the fall jamboree event, our players stuck around with one of the older Challenger players for a mini "home run derby" and, if my memory is correct, the Challenger player may have actually won the home run derby that day!  
So many families have shared how much they enjoyed being a part of the Challenger program.  All of the smiles, high-fives, rock tossing and simple conversations back and forth are fond memories they will have forever.
Thanks to Paul for putting together such a great program and allowing us to be a part of it each year.
The Fick Family


This past summer, my son was asked by our Fall Ball Team Manager, to volunteer as a buddy for the Bartlett Little League Challenger Division. I happily encouraged my 9-year-old son to participate, thinking a little community service would be good for him. We did not know what to expect but trusted that our Team Manager would show us the ropes. What we experienced was inspiring. The attention to detail give to this program it amazing. Each challenger player is assigned a buddy who they get to know in warm-ups before the game. For my son, it was one of the first times he was asked to share his baseball expertise with another player. It had a profound effect on his confidence both on and off the field. For the Challenger player he worked with, it was the first time that someone his age participated as his buddy. As they warmed up they talked baseball, video games and all sorts of other things  9-year-olds are interested in. By the time the game started, they we old chums. 

The game started as dozens of other important baseball games I had attended do, with introductions of the players and the national anthem. As the players took the field, there was that level of excitement you could feel in the air. I was amazed at many of the subtle differences added to insure the safety of all involved. As the individual players stepped to the plate, the coaches adjusted their distance from the batter based on their skill level with the bat. In the field, buddy players positioned themselves in an appropriate position to shield the players from more advanced hitters, and yet allow the Challengers full access to the batted ball when possible. Plays were made and the fans cheered wildly.

The smiles on the faces on hitters, runners, fielders, buddies, fans, coaches, and of course parents, was heart-lifting.  We ended the evening with hot-dogs and Gator-aid, just like any good day at the ball park should, and parted with new friends and wonderful memories. We will definitely be back next year. 

Congratulations to the organizers of this wonderful program. If your goal was to bring the joy of baseball to a wider audience, mission accomplished. If you were just trying to provide an evening of enjoyment for friends and family, I think you knocked it out of the park there too. Well done.

Family from Bartlett, IL   

I have been a manager and coach within Bartlett Little League for more than 5 years. My son, Ronin, will be participating in his 8th season with BLL's in-house program this spring. His games and development as a baseball player has been rewarding, but as a parent, nothing has given me more pride as a father than to see the time he has spent with the Challenger League and the opportunities you have provided him to grow as a person! 

As a parent, you always want to show your children how character defines a person and how kindness and support for your fellow man is one of the most important things a person can give in their life. The Challenger program offered within the BBSA provides special needs children the opportunity to play organized baseball and develop their self-confidence. Your program is second to none in accomplishing this. The often times under-mentioned benefit of the league is the growth opportunity it provides to our kids within the "buddy system". From teaching to support, from compassion to comradely, the wealth of character development the
Challenger division provides to the ballplayers associated with the BBSA is invaluable to their growth as young men and women!

I am so proud of my son when I see how he embraces his opportunities to support the Challenger program and demonstrate the values my wife and I have distilled in him over the years. BBSA not only provides opportunities for all children to enjoy organized baseball, but also with life lessons and character development that will help define them as young adults and parents of future generations. 

As a parent within the BBSA, I thank you for offering this truly amazing program to our children!

Tom Diedenhofen - Bartlett, IL

Our daughter will be playing her third season with the Challengers this spring.  Erin loves it!  She especially loves the fact that she can just be herself and will be accepted.  That's how it is for all the players.  Everyone is a winner.  The coaches are awesome and patient with the kids.  Our favorite part of the game is just cheering for all the kids and watching them have a great time.  
The Johnson family
Hoffman Estates, IL

Our varsity baseball players and coaches had a remarkable experience last spring volunteering as buddies for the Challenger program. We try to do something each year to give back to our community, but this was much more than that. To be able to interact, teach, and bond with those kids for a few hours was truly an inspirational experience for all involved. We are looking forward to making that experience an annual event in our program. 

Andy Schultz
Head Baseball Coach
Glenbard West High School

This league is amazing and Paul couldn't do a better job.  Our family truly appreciates all the efforts from all the volunteers.  Thank you all for putting smiles on many faces!

South Elgin, IL

2014 was our first year and we had a wonderful experience last summer in Bartlett.
Parent of 11 year old challenger
Palatine, IL

"As a member of the Bartlett Little League – there is nothing more rewarding than being a part of an organization that supports the vision of everyone being able to play baseball.  Not only does the Challenger program provide the opportunity to play baseball, it provides the opportunity for everyone – players, buddies, coaches, and parents -  to participate in the sport of life”  

Seth Lewis, former President Bartlett Little League

A big thank you to the Bartlett Little League Challenger Division Illinois District 13 for inviting us to play in the Jamboree this weekend. We had a blast.

Illinois District 12 Challengers