Pleasanton Weekly

Sports - April 11, 2014

Little help from new friends

Challengers Angels open baseball season with AVHS varsity squad

by Jeremy Walsh

Pleasanton's Challengers Angels baseball team started its season in a special way late last month, as Amador Valley High varsity players and coaches were on hand to mentor and assist the boys and girls as Opening Day ambassadors.

"It was just a great kickoff to our 2014," Angels coach Diane Berry said. "It was an opportunity to mingle and play with uniformed players that were 'the big guys.' They very well could have been major league players as far as our teams were concerned."

The Angels, sponsored by the Pleasanton Foothill Little League and the Pleasanton American Little League, opened their season with the Livermore National Little League Challengers team March 23 in Dublin. The Little League Challenger Program offers mentally and physically challenged boys and girls the opportunity to play organized baseball in an environment geared to their abilities.

This year marked the first time the Amador varsity team participated in the Angels' Opening Day. Every Dons player and coach attended the event.

"High school athletes get very busy and focused and can easily forget how very lucky they really are. This was an opportunity for them to feel grateful for what they have and to give back to the community," Amador coach Lou Cesario said.

The Dons split up and paired with players from both Challengers teams, providing help when needed in the field, at the plate and on the base paths.

"The (Amador) boys made great connections with every member of the challenger team, and the day was very special for everyone involved," Cesario added.

Taking part in Opening Day was perhaps most special for Amador's Keegan Sheehan, who played in the Challenger program as a child.

"Keegan has been our inspirational leader for two years now. Keegan was very proud that day," Cesario said.

Berry said she hopes the collaboration with Amador baseball becomes an Opening Day tradition.

For more information on the local Challenger program, visit www.eteamz.com/CA57 and click on the "Challenger" tab. The Angels are one of two Pleasanton-based Challengers teams — Pleasanton National Little League sponsors the Challengers Phillies.

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