Local Little League program launches leagues for players with disabilities

Local Little League program launches leagues for players with disabilities

A local Little League team is making sure everyone can play ball, no matter what.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Little League team in Rio Rancho is expanding in 2024 to make sure everyone gets to step up to the plate.

Sunset Little League offers kids the chance to play baseball and softball throughout the greater Rio Rancho community.

Over the years, players of different ages and abilities have joined the league.

“We’ve had the opportunity to actually have a couple of players with special needs come out and experience what our league has to offer. We did our best to provide reasonable accommodations for them to be successful and enjoy the game,” said BJ Gagne, the president of the Sunset Little League.

As the new season approaches, they’re launching the “Challenger” program to ensure players with disabilities and special needs can play. They hope it will open the door for even more players in the community.

“Being on a team, where they may not feel so isolated and see that there are other kids that are just like them and also intertwine with our other players who don’t have ailments working against them, will give them the push and the drive to overcome the obstacles that have been set their way,” said Heather Rinaldi, the director of the Challenger Program.

The design of the program supports players with special needs and their abilities. There are divisions for a wide range of ages too.

“We’re not going to turn away your child based on any ailment that they have. We’re gonna make any accommodations so that we can fit the sport to them,” Rinaldi said.

The Challenger program will also pair up with a companion. That companion will assist them with their skills and ensure they are safe at all times.

Registration is now open to volunteer as a companion. You can click here to learn more.