Sunday, June 5, 2011

Article published in the Baton Rouge Advocate about the Lafayette Challenger Baseball team

Special Lafayette team bound for World Series
Advocate Acadiana bureau
Published: May 23, 2011 - Page: 3B
Comments (1)

Elliott Venable’s swinging bat makes contact with the baseball. The ball cruises past the pitcher’s mound and Elliott starts for first base.

After hits from three more teammates, Elliott slides into home plate.

In this game, everyone makes it home. There is no score and there are too many high-fives and major-league smiles to keep count.

This game is played by the Lafayette Little League’s Challenger Division — which includes two teams of boys and girls teenagers and younger — with physical or mental disabilities.

The division played its final game of the regular season on Saturday at Broadmoor Park, but one more game awaits them — the Little League World Series.

The nationally televised event brings together Little League champion teams from across the country and world.

As part of the event, the Little League World Series selects two Challenger Division teams to represent the more than 30,000 Challenger players worldwide.

This year, that honor goes to the Lafayette Little League Challenger Division and the Baugo Little League Challenger Division from Mishawaka, Ind., The two teams will meet for play on Aug. 27 in the Little League International Complex’s Volunteer Stadium in South Williamsport, Penn.

The team now needs a rally — from the community — to help get them there.

Because of the players’ special needs, they’ll need traveling partners, which increases the expense.

“Not being able to get these kids up to Williamsport for this honor is not an option,” said Tim Basden, whose 9-year-old son, Hugh, is on the team. Hugh has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. His dad plays the game at his side.

“We’ve got to make it happen,” Basden said. “It’s a tremendous honor for these kids.”

The team has set up a special page on its website for online donations and sponsorship opportunities at:

It’s estimated that each player-family will need $5,000 to cover the trip’s costs.

The opportunity to attend the World Series was open to all 30 of the Lafayette Little League Challenger players, with 18 players interested in making the trip, said Bryan Molaison, who coaches the Lafayette Little League Challenger teams.

Molaison’s son, Matthew, 16, is one of the Challenger players.

While Little League rules will only allow 15 players on the field, the other three will be cheering from the stands, he said.

Elliott will be there and he is looking forward to having more time playing baseball.

“I like to run and I like my team,” said the 18-year-old St. Thomas More student. Elliott has Down syndrome.

When at bat, Logan Watkins said he doesn’t get nervous, but there is a lot that crosses his mind.

“My girlfriends,” said the boy, who will turn 13 on Tuesday.

Logan has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair. As he cruised toward first base during the game, he pointed the way for his escort.

Logan and his family served as the catalyst for creation of the Lafayette Little League Challenger Division.

When the family read about a Challenger team elsewhere, Logan’s mom, Donielle Watkins, called the Lafayette Little League, and its board was receptive to the idea.

That was about four years ago.

Donielle Watkins operates a nonprofit foundation that links special needs’ families to activities and resources, such as dance classes, karate, basketball, soccer and bowling.

“They have enough obstacles in their life and this is one that can be broken easily,” she said.

On Saturday, Coach Molaison lobbed pitches to some players while others used a tee.

The game isn’t competitive. There are no strikes. No outs. Pitches keep coming and swinging continues until there’s a hit.

Siblings and parents stand infield and outfield with players. Gentle reminders are given to the players like “Touch the bag with the ball.” “Throw it to first.”

Molaison’s younger son, Jared, who is 14, is one of the siblings helping out on the field. His brother, Matthew, has Down syndrome.

Before the Challenger division was started, Jared said, he and his brother would play ball in the backyard.

But it’s not the same as playing on a real field, said Jared, who grew up playing Little League Baseball.

“It’s good to see them have fun like I did when I was a kid,” Jared said.

The local league isn’t a stranger to the World Series. In 2005, the Lafayette Little League competed as the Southwest Regional champions and finished the World Series that year as semi-finalists.

Parents credited the work of the local league in securing the honor for the players.

The Challenger Division honor doesn’t only extend to the Lafayette Little League or Lafayette itself, but the entire state, Bryan Molaison said.

“We’ll be representing the state and we’re really looking forward to it,” he said.

World Series Bound

Want to help the Lafayette Little League Challenger
Division get to the Little League World Series?


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lafayette Challenger Baseball

Our very own Lafayette Challenger Little League Baseball team has been selected as one of two teams in the United States to attend and play an exhibition game at this years Little League World Series, in Williamsport, PA!!! The game will be on August 27th right before the US championship game. This is a huge honor for our team, our community, and our state. Please donate to the team as expenses for the trip are extreme and there is not a lot of time for raising funds.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another awesome Saturday!!! The kids had a blast and the pins took it hard!!! I think we are beginning to overwhelm Acadiana Lanes at the amount of participants we are bringing in. That's OK, let's continue to overwhelm them! We finished the day by taking a group picture, it was a little hectic, but the picture came out great. We will submit the picture to Tri-Sigma for an article to be published in their national magazine. We are hoping that it makes the cover, but even if it doesn't it should make the magazine. The kids will be national stars!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WOW!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! The Lafayette Rotary Club South awarded the D.R.E.A.M.S. Foundation of Acadiana $2,000 today. This is a tremendous donation and we can't Thank them enough for their wonderful generosity. These funds will definitely help our kids and programs.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Awesome time had by all the kids last Saturday! A few glitches had to be ironed out, but this is always expected. I think everyone enjoyed the nice cool environment and the extremely fun atmosphere. Can't wait until next Saturday!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Autism Society of Acadiana General Meeting 6/5/2010

HOT!!!!! Nothing you can do about Acadiana weather though. All things considered, it was a great day at the meeting. Families enjoyed the day, kids playing, great food provided, tremendous amount of information, and ICE CREAM!!! Mother nature played nice and held off the rain until the meeting was over and occasionally provided a breeze. We met 4 new families that had not heard about our programs and are interested in signing up for bowling this summer, this was an added plus to the day. I also received a ton of information from some of the other vendors which I will be posting to our website soon. Awesome day with some awesome people!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Activities coming up

Hey Everyone,

Happy New Year!! I hope all of you had a great holiday!! I just wanted to let everyone know that dancing at Jill Listi will start up again at 4:30 on Wednesday, January 6th. At the end of the first set of classes Jill asked us if we wanted to put our kids in the dance recital at the end of the year and we all said yes. So your child can be in the dance review in May if you choose it will not be mandatory. Logan is so excited!!

I was also contacted by Tiffany at Art of Dance in Broussard and she is going to have dancing on Saturdays for those of you who can not make it on Wednesdays. The classes are as follows: Dance class 12 noon to 12:45 and Tumbling class 1pm to 1:45. Space will be limited so call or email to reserve your spot. The classes start this week end so if interested call 337-277-4356.

We are also working on Basketball and cheerleading season which will start at the end of January and will be held at Cathedral Carmel. I will keep you posted as I find out more information. I am still working on getting the horseback riding through ATRO and art classes started so as soon as I have more info. I will let you all know.