Jackie Robinson West program inspiring to all
Around the United States and even around the world, everyone seems to be talking about Jackie Robinson West (JRW), Little League Baseball Team!
Thirteen young men and three coaches from the south side of Chicago out to accomplish the goal of winning the Little League World Series Championship! I couldn’t be more proud of my nephew, Kenyon Haynes, who plays for JRW in the 9 – 10 year old group!
Chicago has been seen in the spotlight lately for all of the violence, but this team of all African-American children, from the same neighborhoods that have been plagued with violence, have helped the world see that there is also HOPE, DETERMINATION, SPORTSMANSHIP and GREATNESS within our children of the future.
When asked how he feels about being on a team of JRW, my 10-year-old nephew, Kenyon, says, “It feels great to be on JRW. The League is making history!”
JRW, which bears the name of the first black player in the major leagues, was founded in 1971 by the late Joe Haley. Haley’s son, Bill, currently runs the program. His widow, Annie Haley, is the league president.
The organization begins teaching the fundamentals and instilling the love of baseball in children at the early age of six with t-ball. By the time they are eight-years-old, they have been prepared and are ready to begin competing in tournaments. The team that is competing in the Little League World Series is made up of 11 and 12-year-olds.
Their preparation for this year began many years ago. JRW has teams that compete at the: 8-9 year old level, 9-10 year old level and 10-11 year old level. These levels must compete in various tournaments against other Illinois teams and strive to be the Illinois State Champions (which is the highest level of competition for these levels). The boys compete in the District Tournament and must win to move to the Sectional Tournament. They must win there to compete in the Illinois State Tournament. These competitions are the stepping stones for the ultimate goal of participating in and winning the Little League World Series (LLWS)!
This year was a fantastic year for JRW all around. Both the 8-9 year old team and the 9-10 won the State Championship! JRW is one big family where they all support one another; the coaches, the parents, the players and the fans. When one team is playing, the other teams are in the stands cheering. The teams traveled to Manteno, Illinois to watch the 11-12s compete in their State Tournament after playing in their own tournaments in different parts of Illinois.
The 9-10 year old team won the State Championship on August 6 and on August 9 they were in Indianapolis cheering on the 11-12s as they fought to beat Indiana to become the champions to represent Great Lakes in the LLWS!
This has been an exciting time for Chicago and an exciting time for all of the coaches, players and parents who participate in JRW. How wonderful that Kenyon and his teammates are learning the importance of collaboration, integrity and excellence at such a young age. This will be an experience that the JRW players will never forget and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
This post is dedicated to my grandfather Norman G. Kerr, who passed away on Tuesday, August 19 after 93 fabulous years. He was so proud of Kenyon and all six of his great-grandchildren.
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About the Author
Anedra Kerr, born and raised on the south side of Chicago, she and her family are die-hard White Sox and Bulls fans. Anedra is also an animal lover, having loved six of her own dogs since the age of nine and as an adult frequently taking stray animals (cats and dogs) to rescue shelters. She loves the city of Chicago and takes advantage of the diversity of arts, culture, entertainment and culinary experiences the city has to offer on a regular basis. She is Vice President of Development at Advocate Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Advocate Health Care.