East Greenwich Little League is starting a new division this year, for boys and girls with physical and intellectual disabilities.
EGLL’s John Sullivan said the success of Unified sports at EGHS and Cole Middle School got the organization thinking, why not us? Unified teams combine disabled athletes and typically developing peer “partners.” Cole has a Unified Basketball team and EGHS has both basketball and volleyball teams. The EGHS Unified Volleyball team is a two-time national champion.
Like the Unified approach, the Challenger teams will combine kids with and without disabilities. Each player will have a “buddy,” a non-disabled partner. Recruiting buddies hasn’t been difficult at all – Sullivan said they have more buddies than athletes right now. Now it’s time to boost the numbers of the players with disabilities.
The hope is to recruit enough players for two teams, so there can be more games at Cragan in addition to the games against Challenger Division teams in Coventry and Warwick.
The teams will mix boys and girls, ages 4 to 22 (participants have to have been born on or after May 1, 1992, and on or before April 30, 2010).
“Everyone’s welcome,” said Sullivan. “The game will be modified at every level.”
For instance, he said, if someone’s in a wheelchair and hitting a thrown pitch would be difficult, they will use a tee. Some players may need a soft-toss pitch – that works too. The game will also be shorter, two or three innings, with everyone getting a chance to bat. The teams will also take part in the annual EG Little League Parade in April.
The cost for athletes is $20, to cover the price of the shirt and hat. You can find more information about the league at their website here.
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