More than 200 youth baseball players attended the MLPAA Legends for Youth Camp at the Sonoraville Recreation Complex in Calhoun, but it was the Canton-based WPB 12U Chargers who emerged victorious from their age group.
The Classic, named after former major league pitcher Bob Galasso, who now lives in Rockmart, took place July 27-29 and featured four divisions for ages 6- to 14-years-old.
The Chargers had little trouble in dispatching their competition on the way to winning the four-team tournament as they cruised to a 16-1 victory in their first game before winning the championship game 10-0.
The victory marked the ninth tournament that the Chargers have won in 2012.
Team mom Andrea Black, whose son Andy plays for the Chargers, was thrilled with the team’s performance.
“It was a great tournament. The kids had a lot of fun,” she said. “Considering that we have some new players on the squad and the team is still in the process of getting to know each other, we did very well.”
According to Black, the credit for the Chargers’ success belongs to Rich Cormier, the Chargers’ coach.
“(Cormier) has been totally supportive of the boys,” Black said. “He’s constructive, not degrading. My son has gotten so much better under him.”
Black said her frustration with the coaching staffs of traditional traveling teams as the reason she moved her son to the Chargers a year-and-a-half ago.
“Coming from a totally different baseball environment, this has been so refreshing,” Black said of her son’s time with the Chargers.
Despite having to travel more than 30 minutes to each practice, Black finds the hassle is worth it.
“Almost everyone on the team has to travel from a good distance away,” Black said. “Nobody minds though, because (the Chargers) are such a great team.”
It is because of Cormier that the Chargers, and the WPB league itself, exist at all.
“I started the WPB because I thought it was time for my boys to break away from recreation ball,” said Cormier.
“I wanted to host tournaments to raise money for the parents that couldn’t afford the high prices of playing in travel ball these days.”
The WPB, which stands for Wanna Play Ball, was founded four years ago, and usually consist of four to six teams each year.
As the one responsible for the creation of the league, Cormier wants to ensure that every child who participates in the WPB gets more than just improved baseball skills while in the organization.
“We want to teach (the players) life lessons through sports, to teach them sportsmanship and good work ethic,” said Cormier. “Not all kids come from stable homes, not all kids are wired the same, but they are all kids, and they can be taught how to act and how to perform if you give them the time.”
For Cormier, a perfect example of how to act on the field came after his squad had won the 12U championship game at the Classic.
Though the Chargers received medals after the game for the win, the runners-up of the tournament did not.
After their team photo, Cormier asked his players to give their medals to the other team, and they happily obliged.
“I didn’t even have time to complete my ‘this is a good thing’ speech before they all rushed over there to give them their medals,” said Cormier. “I was really proud of them for that.”
With a 7,400-foot indoor practice facility to soon be completed, Cormier is already getting his team prepared for the spring season.
“After we play a few more tournaments this fall, we’re going to be ready to bring it in 2013,” he said.