By Faran Fagen
In the end, there were more smiles than home runs.
They swung for the fences, ran the bases, and gloved ground balls.
Two-hundred-plus baseball players on 12 Challenger Baseball teams took the field on Feb. 26 at Pine Trails Park to open the 2023 season. Challenger teams took pictures, ate ice cream, and played a one-inning baseball game where every athlete batted.
Challenger is a modified baseball program that allows all special needs kids to play. Coaches and Buddies provide the necessary help for all the kids to hit, field, and get around the bases.
Husband and wife Randy and Debbie Hibshman of Coral Springs helped start the Broward Challenger program in 1990 and still oversee it. The league began with about 20 kids forming two teams in Tamarac. Now, they have teams in Parkland, Margate, Coral Springs, Tamarac, Sunrise, Weston, and Pembroke Pines.
Christina and Todd, Schulz of Tamarac, watched their two children, Kallie and Kaleb, cross home plate in their opening game for the Coral Springs Blue Jays.
“We are so excited to start another season,” Christina said. “Both our kids have gained not just physical activity but friends and social skills from being part of Challenger baseball.”
Future games are every Sunday at 3:45 p.m. in the seven cities. For more information, visit www.challengerbaseballofbroward.com.
- Faran Fagen, who teaches high school journalism, graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Journalism degree and from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Education. He's worked at The Palm Beach Post, SunSentinel, and MLB.com. He lives in Coral Springs with his wife and two children. Oh, and his three dogs -- who all think that they're his favorite.
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