Roxborough’s own 12 and under baseball team, the Roxborough Rebels, is heading to Cooperstown, N.Y. to participate in a week-long junior league baseball tournament this weekend.
Fifteen players and families will head to the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame this Friday to compete against teams from all over the United States.
The boys have been gearing up for this tournament for the past year. In September, about forty kids that play on the Roxborough Rebels club baseball teams try out for “the Cooperstown team,” and the chosen players make a commitment not only to weekly practice and summer tournaments, but to fundraising.
The boys, along with their coaches and families, were able to raise the money needed for the trip, about $1,000 per player, which includes a pin trading event, a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and two uniform shirts supplied by the Cooperstown tournament organizers.
The team’s fundraising effort consisted of hosting beef and beers, organizing flea markets and meeting for coin drops outside of Phillies games. The team even served up flap jacks at Applebees.
Team manager Mike Simon is trying to instill the values of hard-work into his players.
He says the Rebel’s games are not about winning, but rather about seeing the results of practice and of the players’ determination to improve.
Simon is confident this will help the boys succeed in baseball and life.
Tom Handzus, another Rebels coach, is proud of the team that he’s watched mature over the past year. He says he’s especially proud of how well they get along with each other and respect opposing teams.
At a recent Rebels game, encouragement is heard from all over: from coaches, to the bench, to the bleachers. When the opposition makes a skilled play or hits the ball out of the park, the Rebels camp can be heard shouting things such as, “nice hit 33!”
When a Rebel gets on base though, it’s clear who the crowd is cheering for.
The coaches say the overall spirit of the Rebels organization is to teach the kids how to have fun and grow.
“When you teach them and they’re listening and they’re getting better as a team, it’s great, there’s nothing better” says Handzus.
Simon has high hopes for the success of the team in the Cooperstown tournament but isn’t worried about winning.
Tyler Conboy, a Rebels pitcher and second baseman, says he’s grateful for the opportunity to participate.
“It’s a big honor just to even go and I’m guessing it’s really special.”