The Challengers

SPOKANE, Wash. — We play sports, or put our kids in sports, for many reasons. For some it's competition. Others, exercise. The rest, simply fun. For the Spokane South Little League, one team is doing all that and more while also knocking it out of the park when it comes to teaching what truly matters on and off the field.

"It's special...pretty special," said SSLL President Mike Capka."It is know."

Capka was among the fans this week watching perhaps the most popular SSLL team, the Challengers.

"We have eight kids of varying degrees of intellectual and/or developmental disabilities," said assistant coach Teresa Conway.

The Challengers, rocking their Mariner's blue, have a roster of boys four-years-old to 18. Multiple parents share coaching duties.

"The first practice, I cried," said mom Kady Langan.

Those happy tears seem to free fall for just about everyone in the crowd.

"There's so much joy here," Kady said. "It's magic. Magic. You can't beat it."

Challengers Baseball

We were there for game four of the Challenger's schedule. They play each of the majors' teams in the South Hill Little League. Their latest opponent listed was the Giants.

"We're playing together... younger, older, able bodied, challenged," Capka said. "We're all so blessed as parents. I have an able-bodied son. I also have a disabled daughter who is older. To see the kids come out and just do their best...ah, it makes me so happy."

As the athletes take the field, they do so truly together. Members of the Giants work with each teammate on the Challengers helping them field balls, bat, and some even push wheelchairs from base to base. All with smiles like you've never seen.

"All you have to do is look at their faces... the pure joy," Conway said. "That's what it's all about. Finding what connects all of us."

There's always something. And Coach Conway, aka James' mom, is certain, what all of the athletes found on that ball field will last far beyond the final pitch.

"They are out there having fun, they get to take part," she said. "The kids on the other team get to learn about what it's like to be a little bit different. It doesn't mean you don't love baseball. Everyone is a lot more alike than we think right?"

A few innings packed with new lessons, new friendships, and new teammates in this game we call life.

"It was so much more than a baseball game," said Giants mom, Carson McGuire.

The Challenger's last game of the season is Tuesday, June 6th at Prairie View Community Park, SW field located at 3724 East 61st Avenue, Spokane, WA 99223. Anyone touched by this story is urged to come cheer them on wearing Mariner's gear.