Challenger League providing fun in the sun for local special needs youth


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Rhea Jaide Arias was only 13 in November 2022 when she passed away from complications she received during a car accident when she was 2. Her father, San Juan Arias, had taken the position as head coach of the Lockhart Lions’ baseball program earlier that summer.

Rhea’s paralysis and confinement to a wheelchair hardly deterred her enthusiasm for baseball, as she was her father’s biggest supporter and loved being wheeled around the bases.

In Rhea’s memory was born the Lockhart Challenger League, which accommodates players ages 4 to 18; or up to age 22 if still enrolled in school. While Texas has many towns participating in the Challenger League, Lockhart is relatively new to the game with its 11-member Angels squad.

One of the league’s coaches, Jeff Clements, came up with the idea to have such a program in Lockhart in honor of Coach Arias’ daughter.

The Angels are led by head coach Adriana Martinez, and assistants Clements and Ashley Cortez.

For now, Lockhart had just one Challenger team. The only requirement for players is they must have a physical or intellectual challenge.

The Little League Challenger Division was founded nationwide in 1989. The Senior League Challenger Division accommodates players ages 15 and above (no maximum age). Martinez hopes to grow the Lockhart league and soon include an adult team.

Coach Arias and his Lockhart Lions have included Challenger League players in their season, inviting them a a recent game and posing with the players during the playing of the National Anthem. Also, Lockhart High baseball and softball players, as well as school therapists attend Challenger League games.

“We are so thankful to Coach SJ (San Juan Arias) and Lockhart baseball for giving us the opportunity to be on the field with them,” Martinez said.

Lockhart currently has just one team that plays each other, dividing its players. Usually, there are five on the field and the others taking turn at bat. Lockhart plays on the Little League field, either Thursday evening or Saturday mornings. The next outing is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, at Memorial Field beginning at the Little League’s 1 p.m. at Lockhart City Park.

All of the Angels are from Lockhart. The league is looking into the possibility of playing teams from other towns next season.


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