Winning the district All-Star baseball tournament is a dream for most young players, but it also creates an unfunded dream as traveling and expenses now have to be considered.
For the Bend South Little League Minors team (8-to-10-year-olds), parents are doing everything they can to lift those financial burdens.
The Bend South Little League Minors team took down The Dalles and became District 5 champions, punching their ticket to the state tournament.
“They were so excited,” parent and fundraising organizer of the Bend South Minors team Amanda Westfall-McCarthy said. “They kind of looked at each other like, ‘Did we really win?'”
“Winning districts was one of the best moments of my life.” said 10-year-old Cooper McCarty.
A quick shift from excitement to the new reality: Who’s paying for the rest of the journey?
This is where the real work begins for parents.
“I think the first practice, we all kind of realized, ‘Hey, this is coming up quick,'” Westfall-McCarty said. “It’s pretty short. So we had three weeks to pull together fundraising to get 14 kids to La Grande.”
Westfall-McCarty says families are doing everything from camping, staying in hotels, bunking with family and saving the rest of the funds for travel and food.
“The reality kicks in, is like ok, this is going to be time off work and travel and expenses for these families that they didn’t necessarily plan on,” she said. “So, if we can do anything to help to take that burden off.”
The coaches and players are focused on having a good run at the state tournament.
“I feel like our coaches are throwing the perfect speed to us every practice, so we get tons of work in,” said 10-year-old Nellie Wilson.
“It’s really fun to see where we were, where we are, and then the potential of where we could be,” said the team manager Chris McCarty.
To help with the costs, “Big Deal Cards,” which are discount coupons, give the kids another money-earning avenue.
Another option — setting up a GoFundMe. The goal is to raise $5,000. As of Wednesday, they raised a little over $1,300.
Coaches from other local all-star leagues told Central Oregon Daily News they have funds in reserve for families in need.
Westfall-McCarty says for Bend South Little League, funds were limited.
“This year, there wasn’t a lot of funds available,” she said. “They had sent some softball teams recently in pasts years, and so that fund was kind of depleted, and so we’re going to work on fundraising after this as well for future all-star teams as well, so it is a little less burden on those families.”
The team is holding at 50/50 raffle and auction and Vince Genna Stadium during the Elks game on Thursday.
The minors team still has time to fill the coffers. They head to the state tournament on July 21.