Barrington's 'road trip' rolls into Williamsport

Players' families make an All-Star effort during baseball season

By Josh Bickford
Posted 8/13/19

What does it take to send a youth baseball team to the Little League World Series?

It takes timely hitting, strong pitching, stellar defense, good coaching, maybe a little bit of luck, and …

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Barrington's 'road trip' rolls into Williamsport

Players' families make an All-Star effort during baseball season

Posted

What does it take to send a youth baseball team to the Little League World Series?

It takes timely hitting, strong pitching, stellar defense, good coaching, maybe a little bit of luck, and definitely a whole lot of car trips.

For the last few weeks, the families of the Barrington U12 All-Star baseball team have put much of their lives on hold while the group of 13 youngsters battled to victories in the District II, State and Regional Championship tournaments. 

For the districts, the team played some of its games at Sherwood Field in town, and road trips were limited mostly to Aquidneck Island or Pawtucket. 

For the state tournament, Barrington players and their families made repeat trips to a ball field in East Greenwich, but spent each night in their own beds.

For regionals, the local All-Stars lodged in a dormitory-style complex in Bristol, Conn. for a week — the 13 team members slept in one room (with seven bunk beds), while manager Chris Promades and assistant coaches E.J. Anderson and Frank Fede stayed in another room. The two rooms connect by a single hallway. Players' families stayed at a hotel about 20 minutes away.

On Sunday, just a few hours after winning the regional title in front of a large crowd, the 13 members of the Barrington team and its three coaches — they were still in Bristol, Conn. — boarded a charter bus and traveled four-and-a-half hours to Williamsport, Pa. The local team is staying at a self-contained Little League complex; the 13 boys are in one room, assistant coaches E.J. Anderson and Frank Fede are sharing a room, and Mr. Promades has his own room. 

"It's not bad. I've got cable (TV)," said Mr. Promades.

The team manager said players' families are handling their own accommodations and working through some of the logistical challenges that accompany a week-long trip to central Pennsylvania given on very short notice. Most families, said Mr. Promades, are traveling to Williamsport on Wednesday. 

Mr. Promades said he used up a week's vacation for the trip to regionals in Connecticut. After capturing that championship, he called his business and broke the news about needing more time for the trip to Pennsylvania.

"Am I still going to have a job?" he asked, jokingly. 

Mr. Promades said members of the Barrington team and their families have sacrificed throughout the All-Star season. The team first started practicing in early June; players and their families made a commitment to prioritize All-Stars, sometimes foregoing barbecues and pool parties, as well as vacation time. 

"It's tough," said Mr. Promades. "And it's expensive too."

In addition to traveling to games, families have booked hotel rooms and eaten more than a few meals away from home. Mr. Promades said the families have been very supportive — parents have shifted their work schedules and players' siblings have even helped out. Mr. Promades said Kathy Crain has done a great job as the "team mom."

Mrs. Crain said the experience for all the Barrington families has been special. 

"Spending time together with all the families has been really fun," Mrs. Crain wrote in a recent email. "The camaraderie has been great - everyone is so positive and supportive of each other. We really do feel like one big family. The moms have a text thread that probably has about 8,000 text messages in it! Everyone is truly happy to be here, honored to be part of this special moment and happy for each and every kid. I think all of us, not just the players, have formed a bond that will last for years."

Mrs. Crain said families have helped each other out during the All-Star run.

"Families are definitely helping each other out - older siblings watching younger siblings, families that have flexibility taking kids for parents that have to go back home for work, etc.," Mrs. Crain wrote. "It’s a huge commitment for the families and it’s been a lot of work for parents that were trying to get to work every day and still make all the games in Bristol. Since Williamsport is seven hours away, commuting back and forth will be impossible!"

The payoff for the hard work and sacrifices have come not just in championship titles, but also memorable experiences, said Mr. Promades. On their first night in Pennsylvania, the Barrington team members had the opportunity to meet players from the rest of the country as well as from the international teams. Mr. Promades reminded the local boys to be respectful of other players' traditions and cultures. 

"The kids were great," he said. "It's been so cool to see."

Representing Barrington

Mr. Promades said the Barrington coaches and team members are excited to represent their hometown, Rhode Island and all of New England at the Little League World Series. 

He has told numerous people about his hometown — that Barrington residents work hard, care deeply about their children and they prioritize education. He has spoken about the town's new middle school and all it will offer to students.

Family experience

Mrs. Crain said the recent run through districts, states and regionals has been special not just for the team members but also for their siblings, some of whom played on All-Star baseball teams at different levels.

"I think all of the siblings are enjoying this incredible experience," she wrote. "All of the older siblings who played Little League baseball know just how impossibly hard it is to get to this point, and I think they all wish they had a team as special as this one. All the younger siblings are seeing this and just waiting for their shot to make it to the Little League World Series!"

Mrs. Crain added that the experience has been extraordinary for the entire team "family."

"This truly is a special group of people - players and families included," she wrote. "It really takes a whole lot of magic to get to the Little League World Series, and this team has that magic. Everyone gets along really well - the camaraderie doesn’t end on the field. They are great kids, and great friends, and this experience has solidified that friendship. They will share the memories of this moment for the rest of their lives. That magic extends into the stands as well. There are no toxic parents on this team. That is such a rarity in competitive sports these days! There is nobody complaining in the stands about playing time or coaching decisions. Instead, we all rally behind each player and celebrate everyone’s contributions. That is a big key to our success. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. We cheer for every kid as if they were our own. That is what makes this team so special, and it’s something none of us will ever forget."

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