By Katie Benoit SYRACUSE (NCC SYRACUSE)- Many parents dream of watching their child be on a team. Challenger Baseball helps to give every child a chance to play America’s favorite pastime.
“You expect traditional All-American things when you have a child and it doesn’t always work out that way,” Coach Travis Trudell says.
Trudell coaches his son T.J. who has limited verbal Autism. Trudell has always dreamed of coaching his child. He grew up playing baseball and played football collegiately.
“There is no real word that can describe it,” Trudell said of the Challenger experience. “It’s over the moon for me.”
Trudell has gotten the opportunity to see T.J. grow as player during the seven years that he has been coaching.
“When we first started he wouldn’t even come on the field,” he says. “Now we are at the point where he will hold the bat and go through it.”
Challenger Baseball is Central New York’s largest league for children with special needs. Each game is two innings long and allows all players to get a chance to bat and field.
“When you get things like diagnosis and hospital visits, you don’t think this is an opportunity for you as a parent,” Trudell says.
The league has expanded since its start in 1982. An adult league was created so that players over the age of eighteen could continue to enjoy the game.
“We started with I don’t know 15 kids,” Challenger Director, Dee Perkins says. “We are now at 265 kids.”
A fully adaptable field called the “The Field of Dreams” was built at Carrier Park to accommodate the growth of the league.