A team of local youths is headed for the United States for a prestigious baseball tournament.
The Muskoka Hornets AAA 12U team is the only Canadian team competing in this year’s Cooperstown All-Star Village Championship. They’ll be facing off against 79 teams from all over the U.S.
“I think everybody is very excited. I would say probably about three-quarters of our players have never travelled outside of Ontario, so it will be a big first experience, going into a different country, playing and meeting new people from all over North America,” says David Gemmel, the team’s head coach. “I think the excitement level is very high, and it’s going to be a fun time.”
Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Doubleday Field. “It holds a significant value in terms of the game of baseball, and where it started,” says Gemmel. He adds that the village is considered by some to be the “birthplace of baseball as we know it.”
According to Gemmel, the 12 players and their families drive down to Syracuse, N.Y. on Friday, before heading to Cooperstown on Saturday for the start of the tournament. He says players will get a chance to visit the Hall of Fame, as well as other notable landmarks in the area.
On top of the championship itself, Gemmel says the team will also be in the running for a number of individual and team skill competitions. That includes events such as fastest player around the bases, a team relay, and a home run derby.
He says he feels pretty good about their odds.
“For the individual and team skills events, I think we have a fairly good chance. We’ve been practicing hard throughout the winter on those specific skills,” says Gemmel. “In terms of the games, it’s tough to determine that. But our main goal is to go out there and have fun, and we have a very skilled team. So I think if we have fun and play our brand of baseball, the winning takes care of itself.”
Gemmels says the team has been fundraising for the trip since last year, raising around $23,000 for registration, travel, and accommodations. He says it wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s support.
“You know, this is going to be probably the greatest baseball experience that most of these kids will have, and we wanted to thank the community and the businesses that helped out,” says Gemmel. “Because of their generosity, we were able to make this happen, and we just want to thank everybody.”
The tournament runs from June 4 to 10. A games schedule will be available on the venue’s website, which is also where each game will be livestreamed.