Portsmouth Challenger Jamboree celebrates 10 years (photos)

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PORTSMOUTH — It was only fitting that Mike Hyland threw out the first pitch at the annual Challenger Jamboree at Glen Park Sunday.

“Ten years ago, Mike and I decided to get together,” Bob Dyl of Portsmouth, director of the Rhode Island District 2 Challenger Division, told the crowd during the opening ceremony.

“We were a brand new league,” he continued. ‘We played a game there and they played a game at our place. Ours turned into a Jamboree and theirs turned into the big Swansea tournament. It all started with our two teams 10 years ago.”

The 10th Jamboree was much like the others. Players from all over the region — 18 teams from 11 different Challenger leagues — descended upon the park for a day of fun, food and baseball.

Everything was offered up free of charge and a team of volunteers made it all possible so that parents could enjoy a stress-free day of watching their children play.

There was a bounce house, dunk tank, mascots from several professional teams, horse rides and more. Every player received a commemorative shirt and lots of goodies were given away in the player-only raffle.

The Challenger Division used to be part of Portsmouth Little League, but has since become financially independent.

The Division gives boys and girls, ages 5 to 18 and who have physical or mental challenges, the opportunity to participate in an organized game of baseball. Mr. Dyl has also started up a senior division of Challenger for older players, including his son, Caleb.

For more information about the local Challenger Division, click here or visit its Facebook page.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.