Local players get a chance to help players with special needs

A group of Lake Oswego Little Leaguers got a chance to buddy up with a local Challengers team at Westlake Park.Last weekend, some Lake Oswego Little Leaguers had a unique and rewarding experience last weekend. A group of 11/12 Little Leaguers paired up with Challenger players at Westlake Park for a pair of games, acting as buddies for the special needs Challenger players.

The teams warmed up prior to the game, playing catch before the three-inning contest. During the actual games, each Challenger player got to bat and were assisted by their buddies, helping them hit and make their way around the bases.

After the contests, Challenger players were each presented Lake Oswego baseball hats and given medals.

The Challenger division in Little League gives children with physical and mental challenges an opportunity to participate in youth baseball.

Often it is the players' parents who assist the individuals during games but, when the players are paired with buddies, it is a profoundly positive experience for everyone involved.

“One of the great things about the game is that it gives the parents of the Challengers an opportunity to just sit in the bleachers and cheer on their son or daughter. It was great to listen to them cheer their kids on from the stands,” said Lake Oswego Little League coach Matt Walsh. Walsh and Rand Smith were the two coaches of the local teams who acted as buddies.

“Baseball is a challenging sport as the best players fail three times to every one time they succeed and it's a good tool to teach hot to deal with adversity that can be used in all aspects of life. This was a great experience for the boys to see what adversity really is and how important it is to help, support and accept others,” Walsh said.

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