Forty-two games in four months. Throw in a handful of scrimmage and countless days of practices. All on top of schoolwork. Some also juggling jobs.
Add to that the hundreds upon hundreds of hours put in by coaches who give up their private time, family time and vacation time — all with the intent of teaching the game, sportsmanship and teamwork. And if they are diligent in that effort, then hopefully the wins will come.
It’s been a whirlwind for the boys of summer from West Bladen High, more than a dozen of whom will be heading to Alabama on Thursday to play at least two more games, and hopefully more, in the 12-team Dixie Pre-Majors World Series.
But when the Knights take the field on Saturday morning to open the double-elimination tournament against the Alabama state champions, their jerseys will not say Knights or West Bladen. Instead, they will be emblazoned with North Carolina.
Our boys from Bladen County, for the third straight summer, will be representing their community, their school, their county and their state. That alone brings another level of reverence and pride.
It should also make the rest of us take pause and give thought to what we might be able to do, even in a small way, to support these young men in their quest.
Right now, the team is fundraising in an effort to raise the $10,000 needed to make the 1,000-mile round trip — and there are still a couple of days to help them get there.
Although many other high-school athletes are already turning their attention to football, there are very few who wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of those select baseball players from West Bladen right now. Playing in a World Series of any kind is the thing dreams are made of. It is something these boys will remember for the rest of their lives regardless of what the final scores are.
And this team has a solid nucleus of players who have been there before. For a few, this will be the third straight trip to a World Series at this level. That kind of experience raises the chances of success in Alabama.
But wins and losses aside, our county as a whole should show its support.
These baseball players may only be playing a game, sure, but what they have and will experience goes far deeper than that. They will be gathering invaluable life lessons along the way, and will surely return with a new and more mature outlook on their future.
That’s certainly worth investing in.
We applaud the North Carolina champions from West Bladen for all their hard work, dedication and effort that has them on the precipice of unlimited success in baseball and life. And additional kudos go out to the coaches who have taught and guided the team, as well as the parents and supporters who have made sacrifices along the way.
We wish the team well in Alabama, and hope all of Bladen County will do the same.