Ramstein team takes on Little League World Series again|
by Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/13/2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The 11- and 12-year-old Kaiserslautern Military Community All-Star team will make its second consecutive trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., after winning the Europe Region Tournament Aug. 3.
This is the sixth time a team from Ramstein Air Base has earned a spot in the tournament and is the 15th time Germany made the LLWS.
"Getting to the Little League World Series is something I always wanted to achieve myself since I was growing up in Oklahoma and watching the tournament," said Gary Harrington, the KMC All-Stars head coach. "By far this is the hardest division and regionals I ever had to go through."
It takes a unique group of athletes to advance to the LLWS in a difficult division.
"This was a special group," the coach said. "By far, this was the team that had more fun together and played as a team more than any other team I had coached."
Having fun is a crucial factor in competing at such a high level.
"You have no idea how it feels; it's such a rush," said Stanford Hurley, a KMC All-Stars center fielder. "I've wanted to do this a long time ago, and now, we have the chance. It's amazing because we're all best friends. Everybody has a good laugh, and we always have fun together."
Although baseball is fun, a unified unit will turn on their game mode when the time comes.
"Even when we get on the field, it's a serious type of fun," the center fielder said. "We are like a big happy family. When you are playing with people you like, you play better; that's what makes us a team. Having friends and buddies on the team brings it all together."
While teammates are close with one another on and off field, it helps to build rapport and motivation for big games. Stanford said he has an added incentive.
"My Dad is deployed to Southwest Asia and won't be able to see us play," he said. "He calls a lot, but it has to be quick because he is deployed. When I told him we were going to the World Series, he was like 'Yes! I'm so proud of you.'"
Being proud and supportive of his son, regardless if he is sitting behind the dugout or almost 7,000 miles away, will always be the father and son bond.
"I'm thrilled for Stan and his teammates," said Maj. Stephen Hurley, the Combined Force Air Component Commander watch officer. "It's certainly memories that he and the team will relish for a lifetime. It's been difficult, though, to not be able to share the experience this summer with them."
Coach Harrington said he thinks Stan's father being deployed affects him, but not necessarily in a bad way.
"In any way, him being deployed makes me want to play harder, so when he gets the news, he knows that I produced," Stanford said. "I want him to know that I played good and I tried my best."
Although catching the news may be a little more difficult while being deployed, Stanford's father will adjust to see his son in the big show.
"If the games are fed to AFN Europe, I will not let something as trivial as sleep keep me from watching them," Major Hurley said. "It appears that I can flex my work schedule, if necessary. Now, I just have to hope they are televised."
With a connection spreading across the world for a team that's trying to become the best, the coach said he wants his players to know one thing.
"In the end, yes we made it to the world series, but I think these kids will take the experience, look back at it and know they had fun," Coach Harrington said. "There's a lot of pressure when the games come, but I believe they have succeeded because they knew how to have fun. Yes, we are going to try and win. Are we expected to win? No, but that gives us an edge against some teams, because we have the spirit."
The LLWS is scheduled to kick off Aug. 20 and will continue through Aug. 29. The KMC All-Stars will play the third game Aug. 20 against the Puerto Rican little league team at 5 p.m. EST, airing on ESPN 2.