Sports

Inside Massapequa’s Little League World Series experience

Since Massapequa Coast Little League punched their ticket to Williamsport — the primary in this system’s 72-year historical past — coach Roland Clark’s cellphone hasn’t stopped ringing or dinging with texts.

However one textual content from an unfamiliar quantity hit Clark proper within the heartstrings and helped him ship a message to his gamers about their true mission in Williamsport: play arduous, however soak on this expertise of a lifetime.

“I received a textual content from a member of the Rockville Centre staff that went to the Little League World Collection in 1978. His identify is John Klaess,” Clark informed The Publish.

Massapequa celebrates advancing to the Little League World Collection
Douglas Healey

“He mentioned that us profitable introduced up nice recollections and he was exchanging messages with pals from throughout the nation about their very own time right here.”

Throughout considered one of their nightly gatherings when the gamers break down their day, Clark learn it aloud to his gamers.

“I mentioned ‘I’ve one thing to share.’ I needed them to know to absorb the second as a result of they are going to keep in mind the expertise perpetually. I reminded them that this gentleman is about 56 now. They had been like, ‘wow.’ It was very uplifting,” Clark mentioned.

Certainly, the Lengthy Islanders, who’ve needed to commerce household holidays and seaside and boat days for tournaments and practices, have been relishing being on the massive stage.

They’re the final staff to take the sector on this match of champions, so that they’ve had slightly additional time to get the lay of the land and be carefree center schoolers.

“We gave them off within the morning and they’re operating across the concourse and coming again with slushy stains on their white pants that I informed them to maintain clear. It’s a steadiness of ‘sure that is the massive stage and we’re right here so let’s attempt to have some success. However on the similar time, it’s additionally a chance’ … They’ve been assembly the gamers from the opposite groups,” Clark mentioned.

His squad hit it off with a few of the gamers from Texas, Puerto Rico and Curacao. Clark mentioned some had been a bit timid with the language boundaries. However his son Mike, who’s at all times the one to spark their common “hype dances,” additionally initiated chatting with the Japanese staff.

“The way in which he acted, it was like he had taken Japanese for seven years,” Clark mentioned with amusing.

They’ve additionally been unwinding and bonding by watching horror films like “Insidious” and “The Conjuring” however there’s lighter fare like “Blissful Gilmore” on faucet.

Michael Clark and Joey Lionetti of Massapequa grab some slushies
Michael Clark and Joey Lionetti of Massapequa seize some slushies
Douglas Healey

Frank Pagano, whose son Alex performs first base, informed The Publish that his son is “kicking tail at ping pong. That’s in keeping with him. In fact, I’ve no approach to confirm this.”

And the dad and mom have been offering slightly contraband slice of residence for the New Yorkers.

“We’ve been sneaking in pizza for the children at night time. I don’t know if I can say that however in some way pizza is attending to them,” mentioned Pagano including that the staff eats dinner early, so after night time practices they’re on the lookout for additional grub.

And Pagano mentioned the Pennsylvania pie from Vinnie’s on the town has handed the muster for his or her discerning New York pizza palate.

“The youngsters adore it and I feel the proprietor is initially from Brooklyn. We did a style check, and it handed,” Pagano mentioned.

However the boys understand it’s not only one lengthy sleepover with limitless hijinks.

The newcomers face Honolulu Little League, a perennial powerhouse that has been to Williamsport a lot recently, they may be VIPs on the native Wawa. Honolulu gained the World Collection in 2018 and completed third general in final yr’s summer season traditional.

Nonetheless, Clark doesn’t have a look at his band of 11 as underdogs.

“We simply see ourselves as a staff that does what they should do to show themselves,” he mentioned, noting that they’re all multi-sport athletes whose versatility has powered their magical run.

“Any participant on this staff can play any place on the sector. It’s a brand new participant who steps up every single day.”

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