Youngsters to benefit from ‘life experience’
With a year under their belts as rookies in the Youth Athletic Organisation, a group of nine-year-olds will travel to Aberdeen, Maryland, this weekend to play against some of the best young baseball players in the two-day Highlight Reel Tournament.
The Bermuda youngsters will be playing against elite teams from the north east of United States and are guaranteed to play three games, starting on Monday against the New England Nor-easterns.
Dave Bart, who organised the trip, admits that it will be a challenge for the youngsters who spent last season playing at the introductory level.
“In Bermuda at the seven to nine year-old level we play what is referred to as Rookie baseball which is an introductory level,” Bart said.
“We modify standard baseball rules so that kids can begin to learn the basics of the game.
“At the end of last year's Rookie season I sought permission from YAO to put together a group of nine-year-olds in the hopes of taking them away to a tournament in the United States and provide them with a true life experience from a North American sporting perspective. ‘
“After a bit of research I settled on taking the team to the Ripken Baseball facility in Aberdeen, Maryland.”
After permission was granted by the YAO, a team was assembled and since last September a total of 11 youngsters have been training, initially for one day a week until December, then two days a week from January to March and now up to three or four times a week.
“There has been a lot to teach the kids especially considering that they have had no experience at this level,” Bart said.
“In our tournament we will be playing by standard baseball rules, meaning our kids have had to learn to pitch from a mound, and get used to hitting a baseball that is being thrown at them at speeds up to 50mph, not to mention baseball is a game with many nuances that are not always easily grasped. That being said our kids have come a long way and have worked extremely hard.
“In recent exhibition games against kids from the 10 to 12-year-olds aged division of YAO they have performed admirably and have even given us hope that we can be competitive and perhaps scare a few of our American opponents.”
Added Bart: “It should be noted that the teams we are up against are considered All-Star teams who have been selected from larger metropolitan areas and who have the luxury of playing anywhere from six to ten months a year at a very competitive level.
“All of that being said our kids are very much looking forward to the challenge ahead of them. They don't want to go over there and be an easy victory for our opponents. However, regardless of our results our number one objective is to make sure this is a positive experience for all involved and to hopefully help the kids understand that hard work can pay off in many different ways.”
Squad: Bobby Bart (pitcher, shortstop), Jannis Roberts (pitcher, shortstop, 2nd base), Walker Selley (pitcher, 2nd base, 3rd base), Ayden Morris (pitcher, outfielder), Nicholas Bonanno (3rd base, outfielder), Wyatt Woloshyn (1st base), Cooper Mcguire (outfielder), Kieran Kimberley (outfielder), Tony Morran (catcher, outfielder), Josh Lipschutz (pitcher, catcher, outfielder), Peter Komposch (pitcher, outfielder)