News from the Tennessee Valley Sports
FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2007
SPORTS | HOME | ARCHIVES | SPORTS COLUMNS | SCHEDULES

A 12-and-under travel baseball team from Hartselle participated in a national tournament at Cooperstown All-Star Village
Courtesy photos
A 12-and-under travel baseball team from Hartselle participated in a national tournament at Cooperstown All-Star Village

Playing in Cooperstown
Hartselle travel team visits baseball’s legendary birthplace

By Ashley Hargrove
sportsdecaturdaily.com · 340-2460

HARTSELLE — Visiting Cooperstown, N.Y., is something every baseball fan dreams of doing once at least once in his or her lifetime.

It’s the birthplace of baseball. Abner Doubleday tossed that first historic pitch in 1839 in a field in the town settled by the father of 19th-century novelist James Fenimore Cooper. For one group of area athletes, the visit couldn’t have come at a better time.

This year, instead of participating in the 2007 (travel team) World Series, the U12 Warhawks, a travel baseball team based in Hartselle, decided to go to New York to participate in a tournament at Cooperstown All-Star Village. The team raised money over the past two years to afford the trip. Some players flew to New York. Others drove making vacation stops along the way.

Even though the team missed out on getting to play in the World Series, many of the team members agreed the opportunity to play at Cooperstown was well worth it.

“I enjoyed getting the chance to play at Cooperstown,” said 12-year-old Tyler Phillips of Hartselle. “It was neat getting to meet other baseball players from around the country and trading pins with them.”

Teammates Easton Chenault of Hartselle and Blake Slayton and Dalton Goss, both of Trinity, all agreed the thing they learned most while playing in the tournament was that the game of baseball is not always about yourself, it’s about making sacrifices for the team.

While in Cooperstown, the players and coaches stayed in barracks-style housing at the complex. The teammates and coaches admit they didn’t have much free time, but the players were able to swap pins and play some video games when they weren’t on the field or in the baseball Hall of Fame Museum near the fields.

West Morgan’s Blake Slayton steals second during one of the U12 Warhawks’ games in Cooperstown, N.Y.. The U12 Warhawks are a Hartselle-based travel team.
West Morgan’s Blake Slayton steals second during one of the U12 Warhawks’ games in Cooperstown, N.Y.. The U12 Warhawks are a Hartselle-based travel team.
Each member of the team brought home a ring and own personalized wooden bat.

First-year head coach Jay Chittam was no stranger to Cooperstown when they made the long trek to New York in late June. He went three years ago as a spectator but said going as a coach this year made it a memorable one. The team returned to North Alabama on July 6.

“It helped me understand more of what the week is all about,” Chittam said. “I’d do this 100 more times but only with these guys. They understand what the word ‘team’ means. It was a great opportunity of a lifetime for them.”

The Warhawks finished tied for third in the tournament after a tough 3-2 loss to the OC Hawks from Southern California. Even though the team didn’t finish as the tournament champs, Chittam agreed it was a good learning experience.

“It’s always good to end on a good note,” Chittam said. “I told the guys when we were in the barracks that it was more about winning and maturing more than anything.”

Chittam said while the team was in New York, the parents and coaches never heard a bad thing about the youngsters. He said one reason for that is the direct result the young players get from their parents.

“I’ve been blessed to have a good bunch of players and parents,” Chittam said. “The kids let what they do on the field represent them as a team and that’s another reason they have been so successful. They definitely made a name for themselves while we were there. I plan on staying with them as long as they stay together. They have definitely raised the bar to go far and beyond. They’re going to be a special group of guys when they get to high school.”

Phillips received a bit of a shock the night of the closing ceremonies. He received a plaque for being awarded the first-ever umpires’ choice award for sportsmanship and attitude. He said he didn’t know what to think when the presenters called his name.

“I was surprised,” Phillips said. “It’s something that I will remember for a long time.”

Chittam said Phillips’ award not only reflects him but reflects the team as well.

“It’s impressive,” Chittam said. “Tyler is just one example of all of the other nine players on this team. Each of these players played an important role on this team and contributed in major ways all year long. This whole experience is something they will talk about for a long time.

Teammates Easton Chenault of Hartselle and Blake Slayton and Dalton Goss, both of Trinity, all agreed the thing they learned most while playing in the tournament was that the game of baseball is not always about yourself, it’s about making sacrifices for the team.

While in Cooperstown, the players and coaches stayed in barracks-style housing at the complex. The teammates and coaches admit they didn’t have much free time, but the players were able to swap pins and play some video games when they weren’t on the field or in the baseball Hall of Fame Museum near the fields.

Each member of the team brought home a ring and personalized wooden bat.

First-year head coach Jay Chittam was no stranger to Cooperstown when they made the long trek to New York in late June. He went three years ago as a spectator but said going as a coach this year made it memorable. The team returned to North Alabama on July 6.

“It helped me understand more of what the week is all about,” Chittam said. “I’d do this 100 more times but only with these guys. They understand what the word ‘team’ means. It was a great opportunity of a lifetime for them.”

Third place finish

The Warhawks finished tied for third in the tournament after a tough 3-2 loss to the OC Hawks from Southern California. Even though the team didn’t finish as the tournament champs, Chittam agreed it was a good learning experience.

“It’s always good to end on a good note,” Chittam said. “I told the guys when we were in the barracks that it was more about winning and maturing more than anything.”

Chittam said that while the team was in New York, the parents and coaches never heard a bad thing about the youngsters. He said one reason for that is the direct result the young players get from their parents.

“I’ve been blessed to have a good bunch of players and parents,” Chittam said. “The kids let what they do on the field represent them as a team, and that’s another reason they have been so successful. They definitely made a name for themselves while we were there. I plan on staying with them as long as they stay together. They have definitely raised the bar to go far and beyond. They’re going to be a special group of guys when they get to high school.”

Phillips received a bit of a shock the night of the closing ceremonies. He received a plaque for being awarded the first-ever umpires’ choice award for sportsmanship and attitude. He said he didn’t know what to think when the presenters called his name.

“I was surprised,” Phillips said. “It’s something that I will remember for a long time.”

Chittam said Phillips’ award not only reflects him but reflects the team.

“It’s impressive,” Chittam said. “Tyler is just one example of all of the other nine players on this team. Each of these players played an important role on this team and contributed in major ways all year long. This whole experience is something they will talk about for a long time.”

Dressed out in Cooperstown

The U12 Warhawks travel baseball team traveled to Cooperstown, N.Y., at the end of June to participate in the Cooperstown All-Star Village baseball tournament.

The players and coaches participating were: Dalton Goss, Blake Slayton, Chris Slayton and Trey Mathis of Trinity; Scott Jones and Carson Jones of Moulton; Dillon Campbell, Aaron Lamb, Tyler Phillips, Joe Yeager, Easton Chenault, Jay Chittam and Mike Chenault of Hartselle; and Dustin Bills from Lavergne, Tenn.

Ashley Hargrove

Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!

Leave feedback
on this or
another
story.

Email This Page



  www.decaturdaily.com