When Tom Dever’s son, Taylor, was involved in Little League, Tom chose to get involved.
“I’m always closely involved with my kids’ activities,” Tom said. “I ended up being president for too many years. I was probably vice president or president for six years.”
Tom has been involved with the Nevada City Little League program for the past 11 years. However, the past four have been dedicated to the Challenger Division.
The Challenger Division allows developmentally disabled children to enjoy a day at the ballpark ” not just to watch, but to get on the field and play.
Taylor, meanwhile, graduated from Nevada Union on Saturday and the offensive lineman is preparing to begin his collegiate football career at Notre Dame. He leaves later this month to begin summer drills.
Taylor had helped with some of the Challenger games a couple years ago. So when it came time to decide what to do for his senior project, the decision was easy.
“That first time out, coming from where I come from and seeing all those kids doing what they can and having so much fun, it was very touching,” Taylor said. “It’s not something many people get to experience.”
Taylor’s duties for the senior project included helping organize and just being there for the participants.
“I met with the parents at the meetings and just became a part of the whole thing,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t able to make all the games ” I missed a couple ” one because I was at Notre Dame and another I was down the hill. But I was there for most of it, being a big buddy.”
Earning a full-ride scholarship to Notre Dame helped give Taylor the motivation to help.
“Watching those kids play is so special,” Taylor said. “It made me think about how blessed I am. I really wanted to do something to give back to what I’ve been blessed with.
“Most kids are almost too shy to help kids like this, but once you get there and once you do it, it’s so great.”
Taylor isn’t sure what keeps people from helping in the world of the developmentally disabled.
“I think some people are just unwilling to step outside their box and help,” Taylor said. “But it can really help make you OK with who you are and what you’re dealing with. If you can step outside that box, it shows who you are.”
Challenger started four years ago when Tom said he had a few parents approach him about the idea, saying Auburn and Rocklin and Foresthill all had teams and/or leagues. They got together and decided there was enough interest to start a team, so with seven players a league was born.
The second year saw 14 players, followed by 24 players and a second team added the third year. This year, four teams and 42 participants joined the Little League-sponsored program.
The teams typically play on Sunday afternoons, but Tom wanted to give the players an opportunity to play under the lights, so last Thursday night any players interested converged on Nevada City’s Pioneer Park for a final game of the season.
To contact Sports Writer Ross Maak, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4244.
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