SIDELINE SCENE: Southeast Regional run requires sacrifice, planning from parents

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  • | 12:48 a.m. August 6, 2015
SIDELINE SCENE: Next coach at UCF must recruit better locally
SIDELINE SCENE: Next coach at UCF must recruit better locally
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Talk about a quick turnaround.

By about 2 p.m. on July 26, a Sunday, the Windermere Little League Softball All-Stars were state champions. A little more than four days later, the team of local girls ages 12 and under was in Warner Robins, Georgia, for the 2015 Little League Softball Southeast Regional Tournament.

Exciting? Of course. 

Stressful for parents and coaches? Undoubtedly so. 

The stress of booking a hotel room and getting out of work on short notice for parents of the girls is only heightened by the unusual scheduling that led Florida’s state championship to have taken place on July 26 when many of the other state championships were a week earlier.

“It’s tough — all the other teams had at least a week or maybe two to prepare,” head coach Neal Harris Jr. said. “Other teams were fundraising and getting prepared at work.”

Parents, such as Chrissy Fleming’s mother, Tricia, said that the Little League itself was helpful with the short-notice planning and that, given how well the girls played in district and sectional tournaments, it was a known possibility.

“With our team, everyone was kind of knowing they were going to do it,” Tricia Fleming said. “When you sign that paper at the beginning of (All-Stars), it says you have to be ready to go the whole way.”

Prepared or not, it’s still pretty crazy (and awesome) for parents with jobs to do the things that are necessary to make a tournament run like this work. 

Although the girls were not victorious in Warner Robins, the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that’s why Harris made sure to have his girls thank the parents after the team won the state championship in Rockledge.

It’s certainly an admirable thing to see parents go above and beyond to make their kids’ dreams come true — and, make no mistake, the experience the girls had at the regional tournament (think Little League World Series, sans the television cameras) was just that. I just hope that, even if the girls can’t truly grasp it now, they one day will recognize just how much their parents sacrifice to make something like that happen.

Keep in mind, these parents not only had to take care of travel and lodging but also were part of planning meals and making sure there were moms to chaperone and stay with the girls in rooms at the hotel.

Nevertheless, I’m not too worried. One day, they’ll be balancing their own checkbooks. At that point, the reality of how hard it is to justify booking an $800 hotel room on a moment’s notice will be a little sobering, no doubt.

And, of course, there’s the small matter of taking the time off work.

“That’s just not stuff that you budget and plan for,” Harris said, again commending his team’s parents. “Most of the dads were up there  — you just call your work and, hopefully, you have a cool boss.”

Here’s the thing, though. Both Harris and Fleming raved about the fields and stadium seating in Warner Robins. They talked about the atmosphere for the games. Perhaps most importantly, the parents and coaches observed their girls interacting with girls from the other teams — even grabbing dinner with their opponent they were playing against during a prolonged rain delay — making new friends in new places.

“It’s absolutely worth it,” Fleming said. 


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