Batter Up! Wilton’s “True Warriors” Finally Take the Field
After an extended and agonizing, rain-soaked delay, the inaugural baseball season is finally underway for the Wilton Little League’s Challenger Baseball team. On Saturday, May 12, the True Warriors took the field against the Westport Winners. Cider Mill fifth grader, Patrick “Patch” Angerame shared some highlights of the game.
“I hit a line drive that almost knocked Coach Parker down. And I turfed at second base but I’m ok,” Patch said.
Patch Angerame is an avid sports lover and passionate athlete. Having cerebral palsy had made finding the right sports team a challenge. Last spring his mother, Jennifer Angerame, read about a Ridgefield Challenger baseball team playing at the Wilton YMCA and was determined to make it happen for Patch.
“I grabbed Patch and said, ‘Let’s go. We are going to figure out how to do this.’ And that very day the coach let him take the field.”
Shortly thereafter, Angerame teamed up with Wilton Little League board member, Nancy Ward, to establish a Challenger baseball team in Wilton. Challenger baseball is a nationwide program that gives athletes with physical and intellectual challenges an opportunity to play competitive baseball. The team is compromised of male and female athletes between the ages of 5 to 18 and their buddies, who accompany them on the field.
Angerame and Ward have proven to be a perfect pair to launch Challenger baseball in Wilton. Angerame was well versed in special education and familiar with kids interested in playing. “These are Patch’s people.” And Ward, who has been on the administrative side of Wilton Little League since 2014, is the mastermind behind the execution. “Nancy is the brains behind Challenger baseball. She does it all,” said Angerame.
In September of last year, the True Warriors and their buddies took the field for the very first time. “The fall was truly for figuring things out. We didn’t travel or play others teams. We were just growing, establishing what we needed in terms of buddies and teaching the buddies, who are there to make sure the players are safe and having fun.”
Buddies are a critical part of the Challenger success. Right now the True Warriors need more buddies to assist their team and their opponents. Anyone in 8th grade or older is eligible to volunteer and can register online through the Wilton Little League. Buddies are encouraged to come as often as their schedules allow. “It is a great opportunity for someone who cannot make a full commitment. Our requirement is that you just come when you can. It’s all about giving our buddies and our players a chance to bond on the field,” Ward said.
For Angerame and Ward, True Warriors Challenger baseball is a true family affair. Michael Angerame, a Wilton High School senior, and Parker Ward, a WHS junior, are teammates on the high school varsity baseball team and co-manage the Challenger team. Katie Angerame is a buddy.
Since its inception, Patch has taken great pride in his Challenger baseball team. Donning his official team shirt and his varsity hat, Patch is always there to ensure that the True Warriors follow the traditions of the game.
“He is in it to win it,” said his mother, Jennifer Angerame. “By God, we line up and play the national anthem as loudly as possible, thanks to Patch.”
Registration for Challenger baseball is rolling and just like the buddies, players are only required to come as many times as they can. “We play home games at the Wilton Y and travel to neighboring towns. There are no strikes, no outs. Everyone gets to bat. And if you don’t want to bat, don’t bat. Just come out and be social,” Angerame said.
Parents and caregivers are required to stay for the one-hour game and must register players through Wilton Little League. The remaining games are scheduled for June 2, June 8, June 9, June 15, and June 16. The True Warriors would love to welcome more players and buddies to their roster.
“Wilton community support has been extraordinary. Dynamic Edge is our team sponsor and provided water bottles for the kids. When I ask for a left-handed glove or for a hockey bag, it’s delivered to my doorstep. The whole town is always asking what we need. Right now I have more than we need but things are going to get lost or broken, as any parent or coach knows.”