CHAMPIONS LEAGUE™ MISSION STATEMENT
To provide every child, regardless of special needs, the opportunity to participate in America’s favorite pastime of baseball and softball. It is PONY's goal to provide an environment that enhances the participants’ self-esteem, physical mobility, and embodies the spirit of teamwork and community.
CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
Since their inception in 2009, PONY Champions Leagues™ have expanded across the United States and world, as leagues run concurrently with traditional baseball and softball seasons. Additionally, Champions Leagues have run friendly "tournaments," which provide players the opportunity to participate in games just like many of their classmates who are participating in All-Star play at the time. In Moreno Valley, California, for example, the Champions program has grown so large that a West Zone Champions World Series has been played for the past two years. PONY Champions League players have also had the privilege to participate in exhibition games during Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Week festivities, and annually, a Champions League game is held at each of PONY's Baseball World Series events. Champions League games have also crossed over into PONY's Softball World Series events in the South and West Zones.
In states like Arizona, local PONY leagues will even assist you financially in starting your own Champions League program (READ).
Registration for the Champions League™ can only be done online at http://www.pony.org/. Click on the registration tab and follow the registration instructions. If you need assistance, please call PONY at 724-225-1060.
The is NO COST to register your Champions League™ per league, regardless of how many teams are in the league.
Are you interested in starting your own Champions League? Learn how here. And when you're ready, PONY encourages you to contact your Zone's Champions League Director:
East Zone: Chris Eckert
North Zone: Steve Miller, Randy Crompton, Stephanie Allen (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
South Zone: Tom Collett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
West Zone: Daniel Watson (email@example.com)
Asia-Pacific Zone: Rod Tingzon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Japan: Takeharu Nasu (email@example.com)
While many of our leagues have had some type of Champions League™ for years, PONY has officially organized this opportunity for children with special needs. The new division was hosted by Major League Baseball and debuted at the 2009 All Star game Fanfest activities in St. Louis, Missouri. Abraham Key, President and CEO was present to kick off the activities. This new division was approved by the International Board at its Executive Committee meeting in March and has been a PONY division since the 2010 season. It was developed to benefit children with special needs as they pursue their dreams of team sports in one of America's favorite pastimes. PONY previously promoted the development of this type of league through its Friendship Games at tournaments around the world. Now, the Champions League has become the official division.
Activities for the members of the Champions League™ beginning on Sunday, July 12 included playing at the America's Center which hosted Fanfest as well as playing one inning game against the Challengers of the Little League program on Monday, July 13. This one inning game, of course, resulted in a tie score. It was a thrill for them to play in Busch Stadium, to see their names in print, and to see themselves on the video screen that showcases some of Busch Stadiums biggest players. Hall of Famer, the late Tony Gwynn was part of the cheering committee and greeted each player as they reached home plate. The Champions' Pledge was written and read by Corey Miller, son of Steve Miller.
This particular team that represented the Champions League™ was from Herrin, Illinois. The team began with two players and has now grown to more than 35. The group plays every Thursday night and begins in early spring through summer. Steve Miller, PONY Baseball and Softball, North Zone Vice President, and his family began the program after Steve returned from a tournament in Joplin, Missouri for USA Baseball. He could not imagine that the program would not work in Southern Illinois and began to contact the local newspapers, television and radio stations looking for players. Three years later, a second team was developed in Southern Illinois as well.
Protect Our Nation's Youth represents all children and young adults regardless of ability.