It takes a village — and about $20K — to get to Little League World Series
It's been a whirlwind two months for the 13 players and families from White Rock, B.C.
No player gets to the Little League World Series on their own.
It takes an outstanding team, of course, great skills and little bit of luck. But most importantly it takes unwavering family support and commitment to help navigate the many miles and obstacles it takes to reach South Williamsport, Pa., the pinnacle of Little League Baseball.
Team Canada's entry this year, the upstart team from White Rock, B.C., is testament to that.
"If you had asked me back in April if we would be here now, I wanted to be but I honestly didn't think it would happen," says Erin Usselmen, whose son Reece is an emerging star on this team. "It's a long process."
Consider the journey.
This White Rock team was put together in mid-June and quickly headed to the U.S to play a few tournaments.
Then it was back to White Rock for their district tournament, where the team won all six games.
The team has been on the road ever since. First Victoria, B.C., for the provincials and from there directly to Medicine Hat in Alberta for the Canadian championships. After triumphing there, the team came directly to Pennsylvania. It reads like the back of a rock 'n roll tour t-shirt.
For parents, it's a lot of time away from work. Some, like Chyzowski, have had to return home a number of times during this evolving road trip while other have burned through vacation days or relied on understanding employers.
"Ninety nine percent of it is all fun, it's a great time," he says. "But you're juggling work and other siblings and then, of course, the money."
Yes, none of this is cheap.
"It keeps adding up daily as I change my hotels and rental cars," Chyzowski says. "I would say it will end up being about $20,000 give or take when we are all done. It's not too bad when it's in Victoria or Medicine Hat, but when you come to Pennsylvania and add 30 per cent to every bill its starts to add up quickly."
Chyzowski says nobody was turned away because of money concerns and parents do what they can to mitigate costs.
"In Victoria and then in Medicine Hat we knew if we won, everybody wanted to come to Williamsport so sacrifices were made to miss some games and not be at the provincials or the nationals with the hope that if we come to Williamsport, all 13 [sets of] parents were going to be there."
And so far it's been more than worth it. The team is off to a 2-0 start, the best for a Canadian team in years. If they can upset Japan on Wednesday, it will mean a spot in the semifinals.
"This is a special group of boys," says Kimberly Poland-Orr, whose son Robert has been a spark plug for this team. "Everybody pulls for every kid, everybody cheers for everyone whether it's your son or somebody's else's. They can do it, I know they can do it."
Erin Usselmen agrees.
"The boys on this team, my son included, they love baseball and to see them out here, they are just so unbelievably happy out here doing what they love to do, so how could it not be worth it when you see their faces everyday."
"This is a family, it's our White Rock family."