In all dimensions, KNIK All-Star team treated well at LLWS, Northwestern Regionals
From beginning to end, top to bottom, Knik All-Star manager Roger Nevells said the recent trip to San Bernardino for the Little League World Series NW Regionals was wonderful.
“From the booking of the flights, to the big bus and meeting the team sponsors, to the trip to the baseball stadium and sports complex, it was amazing,” said Nevells, reflecting upon the whirlwind of the two previous weeks.
“It was great. It was fantastic – it was really, really nice,” said the manager.
Nevells reflected on the amount of work that it had taken the player to qualify, then to play, with a good level of success, at that elevated level.
“These boys put in an incredible amount of time and effort, basically playing or practicing every day since May 1,” he said.
Nevells said the boy’s first sight of the ball field down there was awe-inspiring.
“It was a real baseball stadium. It was absolutely fantastic watching their expression when they first walk in the stadium,” he added.
The sports complex, with the cafeteria, dorms, pool, concession stands and security measures were equally impressive.
“Each player was given an ID card with their picture on it, for entry into and out of the complex,” he said.
Inside, pin trading was huge.
“There were even pins there from the Alaskan teams from the 1970s and ‘80s,” Nevells proclaimed.
One of the biggest surprises was the appearance of a former player from the 1968 Knik All-Stars, the only previous majors team from this league to advance to that level.
He brought a picture and the team trophy from that year and showed the players.
Nevells said little could have prepared the team for the temperatures in California.
“On our second day, it was 103 degrees,” he said.
Kids were in and out of the dugout, getting water and trying to cool off.
“We are going to have to withstand this heat for three hours,” Nevells said.
With the team wearing their cotton jerseys from Alaska, the squad was superheated. Fortunately with some financial help from folks there, and from Alaska, the team purchased new mesh jerseys the day prior to their first game.
The team advanced through their five-team pool with a 3-1 record, then lost to Bend, Oreg., in the semifinals of bracket play, by one run. Washington then defeated Oregon to emerge as the divisional winner, Nevells said.
The manager said the boys represented their league and state in an exemplary manner.
The icing on the cake was the team’s return to Ted Stevens International Airport.
With two televisions stations on hand, and newspapers as well, Nevells said the team felt like champions.
And they are.
“I told them that at the end of the day – win, lose or draw – they are the state champions of Alaska,” he said.