Families rearrange lives to follow Federal's quest for Little League world title

August 15, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Vacations have been canceled. Work schedules have been scrambled.

The families of Hagerstown's Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars have rearranged their lives the last few weeks, but they aren't complaining.

They accompanied the team to Easton, Md., for the state tournament, where the boys swept four games. The families then followed the team to Bristol, Conn., where the boys won all six of their games, earning the Mid-Atlantic regional championship.

Many families left Thursday for Williamsport, Pa., where Federal will face Jeffersonville, Ind., tonight in its opening game of the Little World Series.


As they travel, some parents have taken their jobs on the road with them.

Kendra Byard said her husband, Terry, an operations manager in Citibank's fraud unit, spent plenty of time plugged into his office from their hotel. She recalled three or four phone conferences.

"Thank heavens for business centers and computers and all that stuff," she said.

Byard, whose son, Ryan, plays shortstop, is a part-time nurse in Washington County Hospital's recovery room. She said her co-workers shifted their schedules so she could get the time off she needed.

The Grunbergs thought they would be in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., last week, but when the all-stars kept winning, "family vacation went out the window," Pete Grunberg said.

Grunberg - the father of Federal outfielder Mark Grunberg - said he and his wife, Kimberly, are in sales and worked by cell phone and computer while they followed the team.

Kimberly Grunberg works for Enhanced Printing & Promotions.

Pete Grunberg, a territory manager for Shaw Industries, a carpet manufacturer, said many of the couple's customers know about their unexpected travels and are rooting for Mark's team.

Kelley Hornbecker was supposed to be on vacation last week, too.

She figures that next week, as Federal continues playing, she will use more vacation time from her job as a paralegal at a Baltimore law firm.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm not going to miss it," she said.

Her son, Brady, plays right field. Her husband, Doug, is a coach for the team, and sells alarm security systems for a living.

During the state tournament, Kelley Hornbecker came back from Easton one day to go to work, then went right back.

Pete and Kimberly Grunberg, who coach junior varsity soccer at North Hagerstown High School, will come back from Williamsport on Saturday for the opening day of practice, then return to the tournament.

For most Federal players, their Little League World Series success will cut into the coming school year.

The team's third game is Tuesday night, and Federal could advance to play longer.

Washington County Public Schools starts its 2008-09 academic year on Wednesday.

Kendra Byard said her son and Federal teammate Adam Blenckstone attend St. Mary School, which begins its year on Aug. 25.

That day might be safe. The last game of the tournament, to decide the champion, will be played on the afternoon of Aug. 24.

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