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PONY ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF NEW CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

PONY Baseball and Softball is proud to announce the formation of a new league, the Champions League. The newest league in the PONY family is for children with special needs. It was unanioumously adopted at the PONY Baseball and Softball International Board of Directors on October 13, 2009.

HISTORY

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 will officially be a part of the 2010 season. It was developed to help the children with special needs as they pursue their dreams of team sports in one of America's favorite pastimes. PONY has always participated in promoting the development of this type of league through its Friendship games at tournaments around the world---now the Champions become the official division.

Activities for the members of the Champions Division 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, 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. It will become part of the program as it moves forward.

This particular team that represented the Champions was from Herrin, Illinois, and began five years ago 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.

PONY will develop and finalize plans for the language and procedures necessary to create these leagues on an international level. Protect Our Nation's Youth represents all children and young adults regardless of ability.

REGISTRATION

Registration for the Champions League can only be done on-line 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.

REGISTRATION COST

The cost of registering your Champions League is $50.00 per league, regardless of how many teams are in the league. We wanted to keep the cost to a minimal and agreed that this fee was reasonable

Below represents some of the highlights of the weekend. PONY Baseball and Softball are proud to present the Champions!

IMMEDIATE FUTURE GOALS

In 2010 we intend to introduce the new Champions League to our membership. We plan to do this Starting at our Zone, Region, Section, District and League President's meetings starting in October 2009. We plan to place a narrative of the Champions League, the rules and regulations and the Champions Pledge on our web site. We plan to send an e-mail to all of our leagues explaining the Champion's League and the benefits for participation.

In 2010 we plan to have two (2) Champions League games in Anaheim, California in July at the Major League Baseball All Star Game. We also plan to have a Champion's Game at multiple baseball World Series and softball National Championship venues as well as numerous games played throughout the United States and possibly several other countries as well.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

PONY will develop a long range plan for the language and procedures necessary to create The Champions League on an international level but we need your help. Does your community have a Champions League already? If so help us enhance the rules and guidelines by forwarding your information to info@pony.org. Protect Our Nation's Youth represents all children and young adults regardless of ability.




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