GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) – Little League Baseball established the Challenger division in 1989, as a separate division for kids and adults with disabilities – both physical and mental. This morning would’ve been the last game of the season for the team in Greece, but after a COVID-19 curve-ball, it turned out being their first. They plan on having their games every Saturday until mid-October.
James and Brenda Pentycofe coach the team. They got involved in 2013, when the previous coach retired. James said the program was in danger of closing without a new coach, but his daughter urged him to step up to the plate. His inspiration was his son.
“My son is disabled so he was playing for a few years, then the coach who had done it for over 20 years had to retire, he couldn’t do it anymore. When I found out they weren’t going to have the program because nobody was going to coach it, my daughter asked me to step up and coach it and I said ‘sure why not,'” he said. “My wife and I say it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” He said there are no outs in the game, just hitting and running.
Brenda said when baseball was cancelled back in March, it hit hard.“I was very depressed, felt bad for kids, some are from group homes some that are home,” she said. “So I was very excited when they said yes, okay you can start.”
The Greece team has kids ages six to 35 participating. Brenda said families, volunteers and even an announcer – are hooked on the experience, and keep coming back.
Leanne Kuhn is one parent that loves coming out each Saturday for games. “My grandson plays…he loves it…he looks forward to it,” she said.
The cherry on top of the first game? Pitching water balloons for a chance to cool off under the hot sun.
“It’s not about the baseball. It’s about the kids, them having a good time,” said Brenda.