Baseball league focuses on kids with special needs

Challenger league photo courtesy LittleLeague.com

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — Jason Stamm loves baseball. As a boy, he was a member of the Jasper High School team, and he played ball at Wabash Valley Junior College for a year before transferring to play at the University of Southern Indiana.

Now the president of Jasper Youth Baseball and the J Cards travel baseball program, he recognizes the region has a need for a new league: one that would offer kids with special needs the chance to play the sport he’s loved for so long.

Stamm hopes to construct an official Little League Challenger Division baseball field at the Jasper Youth Sports complex. But to do so, he’s going to need help.

Planning for the facility is still in a very early stage, and Stamm is now hoping corporations, businesses and other potential donors will step up to the plate and help him get the league off the ground.

“It just gives those kids the opportunity to come out on a Saturday or a Sunday and get to play baseball,” he said. “And get to be outside, and get to participate in things.”

Stamm has a son, Carter, who is a junior at Jasper High School. Carter does not have a disability and plays on the school’s baseball team.

But one day, Stamm wondered, “What if Carter couldn’t play ball with the other kids?”

Highland Baseball Club's Challenger field in Evansville. Photo courtesy Little League Challenger Facebook

“Baseball’s very dear to my heart,” Stamm said. “Just from my background. And I thought, what would I have done if I was in that situation? Because there’s nowhere. He couldn’t have done anything.”

The nearest Little League Challenger Division field is located at Highland Baseball Club in Evansville. Challenger field makeup differs slightly from a traditional baseball field, Stamm said, with shorter fences and an infield made of an AstroTurf-type material that allows players who require wheelchairs or walkers to make their way around the bases.

Boys and girls are both invited to participate, and “buddies” without special needs serve as helpers that aid players in any way they need assistance during games.

Stamm said that if the Jasper field becomes a reality, it will serve as a regional hub for kids with physical and intellectual challenges, potentially reaching as far north as Bloomington and as far south as Kentucky.

“I’m not looking for it to just be Dubois County kids,” Stamm said. “I want it to be something that we can send to the schools in Southern Indiana and say, ‘If you have children that fall into these categories, if they’re interested, get a hold of us and we’ll be glad to help them get signed up for it,’ and things like that.”

Stamm’s gotten great feedback on his plan so far.

“It’s just that nobody’s ever took the bull by the horns and ran with it, and tried to get something done,” he said. “That kind of gave me the inspiration to try to move forward with it.”

Before the league becomes a reality, Stamm will need to present his idea to the Jasper Park Board and receive permission to use the land. He aims to fund the field entirely through donations. Because the planning is still in its infancy, he didn’t want to guess as to what the total dollar amount of the project would be.

Those interested in giving money or learning more about Challenger baseball can reach Stamm at 812-630-5760. His email address is 5Stamm11@gmail.com.




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