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YMCA Challenger

Buddy Volunteers

Volunteer Buddies help athletes with special needs experience the joy of being part of a team in YMCA Challenger sports such as baseball. Not only do Buddies offer physical assistance as needed, they also offer encouragement and friendship.

Buddy Tips

YMCA volunteers with Challenger Buddies

Be There:  Your presence is VERY important! Your buddy will need you and your team will need you. Please do everything possible to attend all games and practices.

Be On Time:  Plan to arrive 15 minutes before practice/game. Most games last approximately one hour.

Know Your Player:  Talk with family members and read your players bio. Talk with your player-find out what he or she likes, what elicits a smile, what he or she can do if encouraged and supported, and what the cues are for you to back off.

Protect Your Player:  Your role as a buddy involves being a friend, cheerleader, coach, and helper, but, above all, you must be a protector. Be alert at all times to the location of the ball, base runners, other players, etc. so you can do what is necessary to ensure the safety of your athlete.

Dress and Equipment:  Please wear your volunteer buddy shirt that will be provided for you. Be sure to bring a glove during baseball season. You will sometimes need to protect your player by deflecting balls that are hit toward the two of you. Your safety is important, too! Gloves are available if you need one, so please let your coach know.

Encourage Your Player's Ability and Independence: Remember... it is THEIR game! Do everything possible to encourage your athlete to be involved at his or her level of ability. Focus on what your player is able to do and recognize all positive efforts.

Share Your Concerns:  Don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Talk with the coaches or YMCA staff if you have concerns or problems.

Be Confident;  Some of the athletes express themselves easily, but for many this is very difficult. It may be hard sometimes to know how your athlete is feeling or if he or she appreciates the help you are trying to provide. All of us, including your player, appreciate your patience and your best effort to be helpful, even if this cannot be expressed.

Check Available Sources For Cancellation Announcements:  When weather conditions/roads make play questionable, check the YMCA website or the YMCA Challenger Facebook page or call the weather line 816.360.3397. The coaches cannot call all players and buddies, so please assume responsibility for determining this information.

For more information or to become a buddy, contact


Lisa Foitle

As a volunteer for the YMCA Challenger program since 2010, Lisa assists children and young adults with special needs as they participate in sports or social activities. She has also helped at the Challenge Your Fashion fundraising event.

Lisa has a unique ability to empower the athletes and help teens build confidence. Her calm demeanor allows her to get close to kids with autism and sensory issues and support them. Parents appreciate her ability to support athletes to do things themselves and build confidence in the process. Athletes and other volunteers also welcome her sense of humor, leadership, and positive and caring attitude.

“Lisa is a reliable friend, supporter and volunteer Buddy. She empowers others in the program by supporting our athletes and also by leading other Buddies, too,” said Raegan Schurr, Adaptive Program Director.

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