They’re not the Bad News Bears.
But a ragtag group of Greater Victoria players aged 11 to 13 are getting ready to face the biggest baseball challenge of their young lives, the Canadian Regional Intermediate Little League Championships, on July 20 to 26 in Langley.
Representing Hampton Little League in name for the tournament, they played this season at Hampton (six), Beacon Hill (four) and National (one) Little League parks. Many are the same age as the major division all-stars currently competing in the District 7 city tournament at Central Saanich.
Unlike those teams, this group has had barely a week of practise time together and their exhibition games played can be counted on one hand. They’re off to Campbell River this weekend to play in a five-team warmup tournament that includes nationals host Langley.
Things are coming together quickly for the players, who only found out recently they’d be competing at the Canadians, a three-team event that also features an Ontario representative.
“Originally we were just to go out to Central Saanich this weekend (July 14 and 15) and play in the provincials,” explained head coach Hollis Hodson, who’s been working overtime this week with team manager and husband Paul Hodson to get the team organized. “Then we got the news that no team was coming, because Langley is already hosting the Canadians.”
While the opportunity to compete at a national championship is exciting, she notes, it’s far different to have to arrange travel and accommodations for a full week for a team than drive out to the Saanich Peninsula and back. “Now we have to fundraise to get to the Canadians, parents have to take holidays … “
The group started a GoFundMe page Wednesday with a goal of raising $5,000 to defray costs that until very recently were unforeseen.
Hodson, a former ball player herself who has competed at national events, recognizes that financially and competitively it’s a significant undertaking in a short period of time. But the experience of competing in an event like this can also be a significant part of the players’ development as people.
“They’ll go out there and compete and have an amazing experience that 50 years from now they’ll be able to talk about and say, ‘wow we did that!'”
To donate to the GoFundMe campaign, visit bit.ly/2mew2K0