Antigonish Challenger Baseball is putting the call out for ‘buddies’ to join the program.
“Our registration continues to increase significantly, so we need more help,” program head Randy Crouse said.
Organizers are expecting 35 to 40 players for the sixth season of the program to take a swing.
“Because of that, we are looking for more ‘buddies,’” he noted of the growing interest.
‘Buddies,’ which are integral to the success of the program, have ranged in age from 11 to 70 years old.
There will be a meet-and-greet orientation session May 30 for new ‘buddies,’ which will provide them with the ins-and-outs of what they will be doing.
Crouse outlined some of the responsibilities for ‘buddies,’ ones focused on assisting the players, who have physical and cognitive needs.
“The key is ensuring their safety,” he said.
‘Buddies’ do everything from help players bat to running the bases, whatever is required.
“It is about helping them participate,” Crouse added.
He agreed there are countless stories from ‘buddies’ reflecting how much they love and have gotten from their one-hour-per-week experience.
“It is so much fun,” Crouse said of the common experience they share.
He noted “we would not be able to do it without our ‘buddies.’”
And, for the players, participating in challenger baseball has encouraged many of them “to try other things,” including 4-H, Special Olympics and sledge hockey.
“We hope we have played a small part in that growth and development,” Crouse said.
He noted for players, ‘buddies’ and other volunteers it is about much more than baseball.
“That’s the least important aspect,” he added in illustrating the effect of the broader experience.
One of the highlights for the upcoming season will be the opening of a fully accessible field at the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School complex.
“It is really exciting,” Crouse said.
Last spring, the organization received $150,000 from the Toronto Blue Jays Care Field of Dreams grant program for the initiative, while the Town of Antigonish and Municipality of the County of Antigonish have also made financial contributions.
And, of course, Antigonish Challenger Baseball families, volunteers and supporters have raised thousands of dollars.
Turf Masters, the company carrying out the project, has started work on the existing field site. The six-week initiative will include a turf field, drainage and backstop, along with wheelchair accessible dugouts and stands.
“We are pretty excited – it has such a great community feel,” Crouse said.
He noted the field will not only benefit Antigonish Challenger Baseball, but also other minor organizations; not to mention Antigonish Multisport, 55+ Games and Special Olympics.
The accessible field is expected to be ready for mid-June, while a grand opening, at this point, is scheduled for July 19 to 21.
The first of the 10 to 12-week Antigonish Challenger Baseball season is set for Thursday, June 13.
For more information about Antigonish Challenger Baseball, including how to register or to become a ‘buddy,’ contact Crouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-318-0707 .
The program recently launched a website – antigonishchallenger.com