‘It’ll move you;’ New Little League opening, creating opportunity for more kids to play

ENGLEWOOD — The Englewood Little Leagued debuted its new Challenger Division today. It’s open to kids who may have special needs and have been unable to play baseball or never considered it in the past.

This is similar to the Miracle League that’s established at Joe Nuxhall Miracle League fields in Fairfield and the Miracle League field in Springboro. Englewood has been looking to start this special division for kids for a couple years.

“COVID set us back, a year before that the tornadoes set us back so all the planning that we wanted to go forward with it just didn’t happen for two years,” Pete Bardonaro, president of the Englewood Little League, said.

>> Premier Health, Kettering Health, Dayton Children’s to require COVID-19 vaccines for all employees

Bardonaro said it’s now possible thanks to grants and support from the city, Montgomery County, the Northmont Education Foundation, and more.

“What it does is it allows special needs children to play the game of baseball in an environment like what we have here and what we’re going to have on the field here this Saturday,” Bardonaro said.

He said as they were looking at the possibility and the planning they went to the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields and were immediately sold. Getting a synthetic turf field quickly became a priority to bring this to Englewood.

“It’s going to be the field of smiles,” Bardonaro said. “I can’t tell you how much it moved me watching these games. Just to see the smiles on these kids’ faces that maybe didn’t have that opportunity to play this game before that I’ve grown up loving so much and all the guys and girls on our board grew up loving so much. To see those reactions it’ll floor you.”

>> Quarantine guidelines set for students exposed to COVID

The Challenger Division has 6 Saturdays on the schedule for the fall and will have 3 games each day. Bardonaro said anyone unsure about what to expect should simply come to a game.

“It’ll move you. We are going to have our first games, we’ll start this Saturday on August 7th starting at 9:30 in the morning. I think the first time someone who wasn’t sure about something checks it out, they’re not going to want to miss it again.”

The league plans to have a spring and fall season for the Challenger Division each year moving forward.

Registration is free and more information can be found on the league’s website.

James Rider

James Rider

I was born in Virginia and have moved several times in my life as a member of an Air Force family. I've lived in Virginia, California, Germany, England, and Ohio. I graduated from Centerville High School and then went on to attend Ball State University where I graduated with a bachelor's degree.