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Young sluggers selling to achieve American Dream

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Select squad: the Bermuda Longtails team, back row from left, assistant coach Andrew Lemon, head coach Troy Dort, assistant coach Adam Champion and assistant coach David LaHuta. Middle row: Hayes Ingham, Braeden Fraser, Elijah Lemon, Austin Linden, Tucker Champion, Alby Mowat. Front row: Isaiah Furbert, Carter Simons, Tyler LaHuta, Remy Cahill, Crew Dort, Pascal Yiptong
Professional baseball coach Les McTavish puts Bermuda Longtails through their paces

There could be an added bonus for lovers of baked goods at Harbour Nights today, as the purchase of some cakes and sweets could help fund some of the island’s youngest athletes.

The under-ten Bermuda Longtails baseball team will have a stall on Front Street selling their wares as they attempt to raise some much needed funds for a tournament in New Jersey next week.

The young sluggers are set to compete in the Father’s Day Showdown on June 16 and 17 with the tournament set to be a culmination of months of hard training for some of the best players in their age group from the Youth Athletic Organisation, which runs baseball in Bermuda.

Coach Troy Dort has overseen the team’s preparation and revealed the trip has been a long time in the making.

“This trip has been going for more than ten years,” Dort said.

“Ten years ago the same age group would have gone and it was a pretty consistent trip but the last one we did was pre-Covid. That slowed our progress and opportunity to travel.

“We started with this group of kids in July 2021 and informed the parents that the plan was to train in fall of 2021. We selected the kids and started training with the aim of travelling at about this time last year, but we then had a big spike in Covid here, which forced us to cancel our plans with these kids, so we pushed the date back by a year.”

Dort has been part of the YAO programme for nearly a decade and knows that the competition will be tough.

“My first trip was in 2014 as a pitching coach,” he said. I had the chance to travel with the kids, train with them and see what the level of competition is they are facing.

“The reality is there is a much bigger pool of kids over there to choose from. They have roughly 50 times the number of kids in that age group as we do so it’s a much deeper pool, but we recognise that and train and adjust accordingly to give them not only the best chance to turn this experience into learning on the field and in the games, but also enjoying themselves off the whole field.”

For those thinking that the Longtails team is made up entirely of American and Canadian children from families that want their children to continue to play baseball, think again.

Rusheika Furbert has had three children selected to represent the Longtails in the past decade, with Isaiah, aged 9, following in the footsteps of Micaiah (19) and Marcus, who turns 13 at the end of the month.

Furbert’s eldest son has managed to turn his love of baseball into a pathway to education with his time on island proving invaluable.

“My oldest son loved baseball so much that he still plays at university,” Furbert said.

“He left here and did two years at a baseball academy for high school and he is now at DePauw University, a Division III school in Indiana, so he is enjoying baseball and academics at the same time.”

The YAO programme is keen on fostering a sense of belonging and community but fundraising initiatives such as the bake sale today are crucial in helping children to make it to America.

“My children probably wouldn’t be able to go if we didn’t have help from the YAO and the Longtails organisation,” Furbert said.

“It is really important that people come forth and supports these young kids. It’s like a big family, we have parents who all know each other and it’s a big community.

“Everybody is looking forward to the bake sale and jumping in to get ready.”

Longtails assistant coach David LaHuta is appreciative of any support that can be given.

“We are really grateful to compete in New Jersey, to represent Bermuda and participate in a fantastic competition,” he said.

“The boys have been training really hard but fundraising is really important to us. Each family is dipping into their pockets and investing a fair amount but any financial assistance that the community can provide is great and will be much appreciated.

“I know the boys have trained hard and long but they are really looking forward to selling their goods and it should be a fun night.”

• Any corporate sponsor or individual who wishes to support the team can reach out to David LaHuta at 599-4000 or davidlahuta@gmail.com

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Published June 07, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated June 07, 2023 at 8:25 am)

Young sluggers selling to achieve American Dream

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