The Challenger League was originally associated with Dix Hills Basketball to be an outlet for children with special needs to be able to learn and play basketball in a fun and safe environment.
Unfortunately, Dix Hills Basketball went out of business 2 years ago. In response to the closure Gregg Willinger (a father of one of the players) and Dr. Michael Pliskin took over running the league. They attained insurance, reserved gym space, and bought uniforms for every player. Dr. Michael Pliskin ,son Reid, also made a large donation to the league from his Bar Mitzvah presents to off set the costs of the league. The league is now free for every player.
The goal of the league is to have children of all ages with special needs (players) to play basketball with high school students (buddies).
They do drills, have contests, and play games while integrating the players and buddies. It has been a mutually beneficial experience for the players and the buddies.
The league starts in November and runs though June. They play every Saturday (except vacation or poor weather) from 12:30-2:00. The high school buddy volunteers vary from week to week. Reid Pliskin has been working in the league for 7 years and has been the buddy coordinator and coach for the past 5 years. He has even run the league by himself on certain weeks when the main coaches (Gregg Willinger and Dr. Michael Pliskin ) can’t make it. Dr. Michael Pliskin’s older son Ryan Pliskin, was the buddy coordinator the first two years that they participated and he still comes to assist when he is home for the weekend since he now lives in New Jersey and works for Madison Square Garden. Dr. Michael Pliskin’s daughter, Lyndsey Pliskin, comes to assist in the league when she is not studying at Hofstra Northwell Medical School.
Two weeks ago,Reid, got his high school basketball team and coach to come down and volunteer with the challenger league. Reid is also the captain of the Half Hollow Hills East Boys Basketball team. It was a special day and everyone had a great experience. They have about 5 “regular” buddy volunteers that come every week and some other Buddy volunteers come on other occasions. The Main volunteers Besides Reid Pliskin are Joseph LeGuernic, Justin LeGuernic, Jason Stern, Max Rovner, Jake Rovner, and Max Schops. They are however always getting new volunteers and the high school Basketball team had such a good time that they anticipate that they will come back again.
Special thank you to Dr. Michael Pliskin for sharing this information on the Chsllanger League.