Little big men make us all proud

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Summer got a super assist last week from an unexpected source.

Well, unexpected in some quarters. Not in others.

We’re talking about the Coeur d’Alene Little League baseball team that emerged victorious in the Northwest division of a national tournament. For its spectacular efforts, the local lads open play today in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. (See SPORTS)

A little context here helps. As you may have read recently, the Coeur d’Alene crew is the only team from North Idaho ever to advance to the prestigious finals, which is an actual world series because it includes teams from outside the United States. Our team is only the second ever from Idaho to get this far, following the distant footsteps of a south Boise squad in 1999.

If that still doesn’t seem quite like a Big Deal to you, consider that all of last week’s games were televised live on ESPN, the sports network with global reach (and as far as anybody knows, maybe interplanetary viewership). Thanks to ESPN, millions of Americans have now been introduced to lovable Little Leaguers from the Lake City like Chris Reynolds, Avrey Cherry and Braeden Newby.

In case you missed it, the coaching staff has been saying for some time that these kids are special. Sure, that’s a common refrain these days, but in this case the words proved true. The vast majority of this team has been playing baseball together for years.

Here’s the thing: These kids and their coaches aren’t playing merely for Coeur d’Alene pride. Kootenai County and all of North Idaho? You’re not thinking big enough.

A photograph on the Orange County Register’s website showed five adults standing in the San Bernardino baseball stadium stands, holding up the letters I-D-A-H-O.

Guys, the entire state salutes you and will be cheering for you.

No matter what happens over the next 10 days, you’ve proved that you’re Little Leaguers with Major League hearts.

THE TEAM

Braeden Newby No. 4

Cooper Smith No. 9

Chase Saunders No. 11

Chris Reynolds No. 13

Jake Dannenberg No. 12

Cooper Erickson No. 21

AJ Currie No. 23

Avrey Cherry No. 24

Nolan Christ No. 25

Kyle Semen No. 29

Caden Symons No. 30

Austin DeBoeur No. 34

Karl Schwarzer No. 44

Manager: Sean Cherry

Coaches: Manny Azevado and Steve Saunders

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