Challenger Division returns to World Series


Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: The ‘O’s’ and the ‘Birds’ all gather for a cheer after their Little League World Series matchup on Wednesday, Aug. 3.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: The ‘O’s’ and the ‘Birds’ all gather for a cheer after their Little League World Series matchup on Wednesday, Aug. 3.After a successful World Series debut last summer, the Lower Sussex Little League Challenger Division put on a show in Roxana yet again this year, having seen their turnout go from 12 to 19 players.

“Challenger is growing, and we’re getting the word out,” said Meghan Browne of the league designed for players with special needs.

“The kids love it. They get really excited about it. I really think they know this is different and that there’s something special about [the World Series game].”

Browne helps run the league with her husband, Kevan, Coach Jeff Smith, and Lower Sussex Little League board member and former president Tracy Littleton.

Last year, they were approached by District 3 about the possibility of playing a World Series game, to go along with the Big League and Senior League Softball World Series.

Then, this year, they were asked to return, just in time to order their official Challenger Division World Series jerseys.

“It’s fun. It’s noncompetitive. We’re out here just for the kids and everybody to have a good time,” Kevan Browne said of the event.

“We get a huge fan turnout. It starts out as a couple people, and then people come over to see what’s going on, and it just grows.”

Throughout the spring, the league usually plays on Saturdays at the Pyle Center. While there are often fans and other teams around to watch, it’s nothing compared to their World Series turnout.

“People could hear all the cheering,” said Meghan Browne. “It’s just fun and happy, and everybody’s smiling and laughing and cheering. We had people last year say, ‘What’s going on over here?’ Then we told them about Challenger and they couldn’t believe how much fun the kids were having. It’s a different feel from the other games.”

“It’s a great showcase for the program,” said Kevan Browne.

While the game and the league are, of course, about fun, Meghan Browne went on to explain that, for the parents, it can offer camaraderie as well.

“The parents love to see their kids grow and succeed. It’s fun for them, too,” she said.

“The parents get to talk to each other, and it’s a chance for all of us to network, which is really important. You can feel kind of isolated sometimes with your life being different. You get to talk to all these other parents, and they all have the same issues, the same stuff going on with their kids.”

The Brownes went on to say that they hope to see the league continue to get games during the World Series and for the Challenger Division to grow both locally and regionally, with the possibility of other areas getting involved in the future.

For more on the Challenger Division, visit www.lowersussexlittleleague.com.