ELIZABETH, NJ - The Elmora Youth League Troopers baseball team overcame several obstacles in their rise to undefeated state champions this season, but now they face another hurdle: raising enough funds to help them get to regionals.
“Obviously, we hoped to get this far, but we never expected it and a week of hotel stays,” said Vanessa Cangas Garcia, whose 10-year-old son, Sal Garcia, pitches for the team. “These parents -- we're just making it.”
This is the first state championship win for the team in the league's nearly 44-year history, Garcia said. The 13 boys, who are all either 9 or 10 years old, will head to Cranston, RI on Friday to face four teams in the Eastern Regional Baseball Tournament.
A Gofundme campaign was created by one of the team’s coaches, Patty Aponte, to raise funds for travel expenses, meals and lodging. A fundraising pep rally will also be held at Hanratty Field on Westfield Avenue for the boys tomorrow from 8 to 10 p.m.
The Troopers sealed the deal as state champions July 31 in a 5-1 win against Waterford Township, according to the league's website. In Rhode Island, the Troopers will face New York on Saturday, Maryland on Sunday, Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Delaware next Wednesday.
The two teams with the most wins in their bracket will compete for the New England Championship on Aug. 11. The winning New England team will face off against the Mid-Atlantic regional champions on Aug. 12.
The Elmora Youth Little Troopers jumped up in excitement after Sal Garcia, 10, threw out the final pitch that won the team the state championship on July 31 against Waterford Township. (Video courtesy of Gail Weingardner Delgado)
The Troopers are led by two other coaches, Louis Aponte and Alfonso Rey. Coach Louis Aponte did not return a voicemail that was left for him tonight, but he told the boys to “dig deeper” for regionals in a pep talk that was posted on the league’s Facebook page earlier this evening.
"Guys, we've got to raise the level of focus and we've gotta get ready to go,” Coach Louis Aponte told the team in the video. “Because now, we're going to face teams that -- guess what -- are pretty much going to be like you. They're all state champions. But now we're going to find out who can play the best fundamental baseball.”
He also reminded the boys to have fun and “play our hearts out.”
Garcia, the parent of one of the boys on the team, said the experience of working together on a baseball team has taught the boys “discipline” and “dedication.”
“It’s just such an amazing accomplishment,” Garcia said. “It just shows that that anything they put their minds to, they can accomplish.”
For more information about the team, follow them on Facebook. Below is a full roster of the Troopers:
Derek Escobar #2; Emmanual Nunez #3; Jayden Capindica #8; Jayden Rosado #42; Jordan Rey #12; Josiah Sharpe #7; Justin Labrador #27; LJ Aponte #11; Noah Sosa #13; Sal Garcia #1; Santi Alvarez #6; Yadi Mateo #28; Jaime Tamayo #20