Federal players cheered at opening ceremony

August 18, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- With dozens of supporters cheering them on, Federal Little League carried the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship banner onto the field of Volunteer Stadium during the Little League World Series opening ceremony's "Parade of Champions" Friday afternoon.

"I'm not even a parent of one of these kids, but I have a lump in my throat," said Lisa Conrad, the wife of Federal President Mike Conrad. "I'm so proud of them. Six of these kids live in my neighborhood. Nick Karlen I've known since he was in diapers. It's personal for me too."

"All these parents have to be proud of their sons," Mike Conrad said. "It's been surreal. You can't believe it, but yet you can. It's an unbelievable experience for these kids."

Federal was scheduled to play its first of three games in pool play Friday night against Great Lakes champion Jeffersonville, Ind. The game was rained out and rescheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m.


Each of the 16 teams that qualified for the Little League World Series carried its regional banner onto the field, marching in from the gate near the left field foul post down the third base line, then across the edge of the infield before forming a semicircle behind first, second and third bases.

Federal was introduced ninth and received a rousing ovation from parents, relatives, league officials and other fans seated in the bleachers just to the first base side of home plate.

"This is just a very, very impressive moment," said Ed Schreiber, the father of player Zane Schreiber. "I don't know what the right word is. It's a very emotional moment."

"It was quite a heart-warming moment," said Justus Jobe, the father of player Dalton Jobe. "I was proud for all the boys. They started in T-ball and they made it to Williamsport."

South Williamsport Mayor William R. Miller and Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana each welcomed fans, with Campana drawing a loud cheer when he borrowed from Monday Night Football by asking, "Are you ready for some baseball?"

Little League International President and CEO Steve Keener said, "We have 16 champions standing behind us. One will leave as World Series champion, but no one will leave a loser."

Retired Atlanta Braves legend and two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy spoke to the players on behalf of the I Won't Cheat Foundation. As part of his speech, he had all of the players say "I won't cheat" in unison.

After that, tournament director Pat Wilson and the regional directors presented World Series medals to each of the players.

Once the ceremony was completed, Federal headed back to its dormitory.

"I have brought Andrew (Yacyk) up here each year since he was 10 to watch the games, and we had planned to come up again this year," said Lucy Yacyk, Andrew's mother. "But now he's here playing!"

"We come up here every year, and we finally have a Hagerstown team here, which makes it all the better, said Rick Loar, of Williamsport, Md. Loar had his son Shaun with him.

Federal will play Northwest champions Mill Creek, Wash., on Monday at noon, and Southeast champions Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

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