Falls Challenger Baseball Team Welcomes New Friends

The area baseball division for children with special needs added Whitefish Bay this year, and Menomonee Falls was their first opponent.

The Menomonee Falls Braves played Sunday in the Challenger Division. Credit: Jeff Rumage
The Menomonee Falls Braves played Sunday in the Challenger Division. Credit: Jeff Rumage

This story was reported and written by Jeff Rumage.

Players from the Menomonee Falls Braves helped the Whitefish Bay Little League debut its new Challenger Division team on Sunday at Craig Counsell Park in Whitefish Bay.  

Little League's Challenger Division is for boys and girls with physical and mental challenges. The division, which first started on the national level in 1989, is open to ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school.   On Sunday, the Braves played the Whitefish Bay Bats in the Bats’ first game ever.  

Menomonee Falls has had a Challenger Division in place for more than 15 years. Gary Oliversen, one of the team's coaches, said he got involved when his son Brent was 6 years old. Although Brent isn't able to walk or swing a bat, Oliversen said his son's facial expressions show his love for the game.

"He's a big Brewers fan, so he likes being outside and being on the field," Oliversen said. "We have a great time."

Although some of the kids would rather sit in the outfield than field a grounder, Falls coach Jim Seidl said players usually improve their skills over time. One of the Falls players who dug around in the dirt and plucked blades of grass two years ago eventually developed his game and is now one of the more active players on the team.

"They've worked on their fundamentals, and they've worked out their fears about going on the field," Seidl said. "They found out they can do it."


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