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Teen fills special need

04/14/2015, 4:15pm CDT
By Loren Nelson

Alex Rejto, left, is the founder and director of the Champions League, a Carlsbad, Calif., baseball program for special needs youth ages 4 to 20. Don Boomer photo courtesy of U-T San Diego

La Costa Youth Organization board meetings attract a cross section of accomplished professionals – among them sales executives and corporate co-presidents, senior science writers and litigation attorneys – from the ritzy northern suburbs of San Diego.

Alex Rejto hardly fits among that group of power brokers, although he might just be the most famous of the bunch. He most certainly is the youngest.


Alex Rejto, left, is a high school junior

“His mom has to drive him to board meetings, it’s really cute,” said Shannon Koski, the La Costa Youth Organization’s webmaster, registrar and IT director. “To talk to him you would never know he is a teenager. He’s a great kid.”

Rejto was 14 when he started the La Costa Youth Organization’s Champions League for special needs ballplayers ages 4 to 20. Three years later, Rejto, now a junior playing shortstop for Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley, has grown the league from 15 players and one game a week at its inception to 65 players on six teams. There are also more than 150 teen “buddies” who help the players on game days.

A recent U-T San Diego article profiled Rejto and the Champions League, which is funded by sponsors signed on by Rejto. This year the uniforms were provided by the San Diego Padres.

Koski said the La Costa Youth Organization, which provides baseball and softball programs for about 1,000 kids ages 5 to 15, encourages members to attend Champions Division games. She has followed that directive by taking her her two kids to Champions games.

“It is humbling on so many different levels,” she said. “You have these kids who are buddies who are volunteering . . . I am tearing up thinking about it.”


La Costa Youth Organization Champions Division page

Koski has done her part to showcase the league by creating a special Champions Division section on the site. The section includes player info that explains the specs of a Champion game (they last one hour and two innings, every player bats and scores each inning, home runs are plentiful) and who are Champion players (all players with any medical and physical disabilities between the ages of 4 and 20). The Player Info page also includes this year’s schedule.

A Buddy Information page includes sections on Buddy Guidelines and Buddy Registration. 

The main Champions Division page includes two photo slideshows, a news video from a local media outlet, a list of the league’s sponsors, a Facebook widget and Rejto’s contact information. Some of that information has been posted by Rejto, who has edit access to the Champions Division portion of the site.

He's a really, really bright kid." 
LCYO webmaster Shannon Koski on Champions League founder Alex Rejto

“On our old website we had 10 different people updating it and the fonts were different and the sizes were different on everything,” Koski said. “So now I don't give access to all the different coaches and pretty much post everything myself. Just updating it is no big deal. 

"But I did give access to Alex. He put in the pictures and slideshows. He put up the list of games for this year. He didn’t even ask me for help. He’s a really, really bright kid.”

 

The league runs each year from late February to mid May and shows no sign of stopping. Rejto, who hopes to play college baseball, is already grooming his brother, 12-year-old Eli, to take over after next season as director and gameday announcer.


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Encourage a young athlete with an inspiring message. Thank a coach, parent, or teammate who's made a difference in your life. Pass the flame for them to share and keep alive. Because one little spark is all it takes to ignite something great.


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