San Jose’s Cambrian Park Challenger Division team brings talent to Little League World Series

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — After a two-year pandemic postponement, San Jose’s Cambrian Park Little League Challenger team is just two weeks away from playing in a Little League World Series exhibition game.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” team manager Barbara Morrone said. “It’s like a first in youth sports and we are so honored to have been selected to participate.”

Morrone started Cambrian Park’s Challenger Division 12 years ago. A baseball mom herself, she said she quickly recognized that some kids didn’t have a team to play on.

“You find a need and you fill it,” she said.

Over the years, Morrone, athletes and their families have found that the effort has fostered friendships on and off the field and built community regardless of ability. The Challenger division is designed for players with physical and intellectual challenges.

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12 volunteer players, coaches and “buddies” will be San Jose’s first to compete in the Little League World Series, headquartered in Pennsylvania.

“There should be equal opportunities for everyone,” Morrone said. “Sometimes you have to make some accommodations, but baseball is a sport for everyone.”

It’s a grand slam opportunity for 10-year-old Julian Haas.

“We’re really excited for him to do this,” his mother, Kris Coleman-Haas, told ABC7 News. “He’s been a huge baseball fan since he was about 18 months old.”

Having played in other leagues before, Julian’s mother said the experience became difficult for her son.

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“He was a bit ostracized. It was harder for him to play on those teams,” Coleman-Haas explained. “And then he comes to this league and he’s just one of the kids. He’s one of the guys playing.”

The team, the community, the rest of Cambrian Little League all provide the necessary supportive environment.

“Me and one of the volunteers were throwing and catching,” player Joshua Myers told ABC7 News. “And he was like, ‘Hey, you can be a pitcher!’ And I’m like, ‘Really?’ And I was like, ‘Wow!'”

And “wow” is right. During the team’s last weekday practice in San Jose, Myers threw pitch after pitch. Morrone said Myers would be the first young pitcher in the Challenger Division to pitch an exhibition game at the Little League World Series. This monumental opportunity, Myers said, proves that anything is possible.

“I hope it will give them the opportunity to live their life and give them inspiration,” he said, of others facing similar physical or intellectual challenges. “When I’m older, I’ll have a good story to tell.”

To make the trip possible, Morrone said the team spent the summer raising funds. They raised nearly $80,000 to cover travel costs to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

To learn more about Cambrian Park Little League Baseball, click here.

To donate to the Challenger Road to the World Series effort, click here.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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