Toms River East Little League opening day and first pitch take place Saturday
It's once again time to run the white chalk up the base lines, evenly spread the infield dirt and cut the outfield grass at the Toms River East Little League complex as their annual parade and opening day ceremony take place this Saturday April 1.
The parade commences from the East Dover First Aid Squad between Garfield and Third Avenue at 10 am and then takes them to the District 18 TRELL complex where the opening day ceremony will begin, followed by games throughout the day.
The league will be celebrating "25 Years of TRELL'S Challenger Division" this year which is being coined its theme.
Walter Grenci with TRELL says the special guests for the ceremony following the parade will be Toms River Township Mayor Tom Kellaher, Councilman Jeffrey Carr and Councilwoman Maria Maruca.
After the parade will be the leagues banner contest where judges will look at each teams banner which features their logo and will pick the most creative design.
"The effort that they put forth with the banners with their teammates and team moms is great," said Grenci. "Those banners are judged and then some prizes are awarded."
He explains that following the leagues 50th Anniversary celebration in 2016, this years theme focuses on their challenger division, "which concentrates on people that are handicapped both physically and mentally to enjoy and learn a little bit about the sport of baseball."
The challenger division is a group of teams compiling about 80-ballplayers with developmental disabilities physically or mentally such as Down Syndrome, the Autism spectrum, Multiple Sclerosis and the visually impaired, under the direction of Jim Kelly who runs this division.
"It's a fun thing for them to participate in," said Grenci. "They get to go out there and play the game of baseball. It's not important that scores are kept but instead that they participate and learn more about the sport."
Grenci adds that with TRELL it's the smiles on the ballplayers faces in this division that makes it all worth it.
"They don't feel shy about playing, they don't feel unmotivated about playing...they feel encouraged about playing," said Grenci, who adds it's due to the loving support of their family, friends and coaches in the league.
In a statement the league expressed its gratitude for Kelly,"Without Mr. Kelly and his tireless efforts and dedication this would not be possible. We are grateful to Mr. Kelly and his steadfast dedication to the "Challenger cause" of the Toms River East Little League!"
March of 1993 was the first full season of the Challenger Division which then only had two teams of 30 players and four coaches, and ever since has seen nearly 1,500 players compete in this division.
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