Westport sponsors the 3rd largest Little League program in the world.
But until this year, it did not have a Challenger Division.
Starting soon, though, boys and girls ages 5-18 with physical or mental challenges will play baseball, just like hundreds of other Westport kids.
And they’ll do so thanks in large part to the work of a Staples High School junior.
Jack Cody stands near the Staples baseball diamond.
Jack Cody is a former Little Leaguer and Staples baseball athlete. For the past 3 years he’s helped coach a Little League team. He’s also a member of Kool To Be Kind, the high school mentorship and anti-bullying program.
When Jack realized that Westport Little League did not provide opportunities for children with disabilities, he vowed to make it happen.
He researched Challenger programs in towns like Fairfield and Ridgefield. He got help from Norwalk; emailed Westport Little League officials; enlisted his mother Beth as commissioner, and made a formal proposal to the board. They loved Jack’s idea — and his enthusiasm.
Then he began recruiting players and “buddies.” They assist Challenger players on the field, but encourage them to bat and make plays themselves whenever possible.
Teams will be organized by ability, rather than age. Games are a couple of innings long. Everyone bats each inning.
There is no fee. Each player receives a personalized jersey and cap. The season begins April 27 and ends June 22. Games are on weekends, in Westport and nearby towns.
“It’s really important that every kid gets a chance to play baseball,” Jack says of his favorite sport. “I’m just really glad I can help make this possible.”
PS: Baseball is not all Jack does well. He and fellow Stapleite Warren Schorr have been selected to represent the school this summer, at a summit of young leaders in Singapore.
(Parents can register players for the Challenger program by clicking here. For more information, or to volunteer as a buddy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)