SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - From the sandlot to the backyard to the baseball field, Cooperstown, New York attracts baseball fans young and young at heart. Cooperstown is of course the home of the National Baseball League's Hall of Fame. South Brunswick's U12 baseball team is headed to the iconic baseball hot spot to participate in one of the largest youth baseball tournaments in the nation. The competition is an open tournament for 12 year old teams and includes a once-in-a-lifetime experience for players and families.
South Brunswick's Vikings U12 team is coach by Jim Cooney and Jeff Cohen. The team had a record of 30-18 last season. Cooney and Cohen have coached the team for the past six years. Neither coach is originally from South Brunswick and both have strong baseball backgrounds. Cohen played ball in high school and college while Cooney played competitive baseball at the Brooklyn Parade Grounds when he was in his twenties. As 12 year olds, Cooney and Cohen did not have the opportunity to participate in the Cooperstown tournament though Cohen did go in 2008 as a coach when his son Matt played. The two men are looking forward to the experience this summer.
"First, the team improved once again this year and had a blast doing it," Cooney said of his U12 team. "We won the championship in the Strike Out Breast Cancer Tournament and were the championship runner-up in the South Brunswick Viking Classic 11U and 12U divisions Memorial Day Tournament and Fords Invitational."
"Seven of the players started with the team when they were seven years old," Cooney continued. "The team is one of the hardest working group of players Jeff and I have worked with. We are sincerely appreciative of the commitment of not only the players, but of all the family members who have always come out to support us."
The members of the Vikings U12 team who will be headed to Cooperstown this summer include Aidan Silva, Daniel Podurgiel, Jake Graci, Joey Sanchez, Daniel Kirk, Jeter Sylvestre, E.J. Balewitz, Brian Culhane, John Koch, Joey Beitler, Dylan Hartman and Husan Zakir.
The entire Cooperstown tournament experience encompasses an opening ceremony, skills competition, closing ceremony, a baseball tournament played in Dreams Park, a championship game, closing ceremony fireworks and rings. All of the players will also be inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.