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Jackie Robinson West program inspiring to all

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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  1. What a great program and a legacy they have built. Thanks for this blog…

  2. Ernst Lamothe Jr August 25, 2014 at 9:23 am · Reply

    The Jackie Robinson West team energized Chicago. I haven’t seen this many grown adults cheering and losing their voices since Michael Jordan was bringing championships to Chicago.

  3. What an amazing run for these Chicago champions! Congratulations to the team and kudos to all who bring this exceptional program to children of all ages.

  4. Katie Renz

    I had so much fun watching them this weekend! I can’t imagine how nervous they must have been playing in front of so many people but while watching them it appeared like it was just another baseball game.

  5. JRW has brought the city of Chicago together on an awesome, positive accord; they epitomize the term “champion”… Congratulations to the entire JRW league, their coaches and staff!!

  6. Congratulations to the entire JRW family and also to the City of Chicago! Children deserve the best that we can provide them with and their potential is limitless when they are aimed in the right directions. I really enjoyed watching the JRW team and look forward to hearing of their continued successes.

  7. Congratulations to the JRW family! Our guys were outstanding in every way! I yelled, cheered, clapped, and screamed as if I were in the stands. My family and I were so excited. My nephew and I watched the game together via telephone and now he wants to move here to be a part of JRW. He’s 11 years old so that’s not happening. I feel like I’m a member of the JRW family. Way to go Family!!

  8. Big hug to all those inspiring young people. Don’t want to call them boys. They have shown more wisdom and confident than some grown men. I look forward to them growing into confident leaders. We cannot leave out the parents who have motivated and supported them, and the couch who stuck by them. CONGRETULATIONS!
    I cried tears of joy just watching them play. They are truly Champs.

  9. Sorry for the loss of your grandfather, and so happy for these kids. Thanks for filling in the info gaps. We’ll all be paying more attention to little league in Chicago. I wish more fabulous Chicago kids made the headlines. Squeeze out the bad seeds…. Or teach them how to play!

  10. Julie Nakis

    It was great to see all of Chicago rally around this team of boys and celebrate their accomplishments this morning! Great job to all the players, coaches and families!

  11. Anedra, Your knowledge really tells the story of the JRW teams and all of the values instilled in these young men long before they make it the the little league world series. I started watching them on a Saturday when they made it to Williamsport. I was listening to the radio and the DJ said “turn on your televisions. ..these kids from the south side of Chicago are playing ball.” From that point and every game thereafter I watched as if I was the “proud parent” of those young men. I learned the line up, the positions they played and cheered them along their route yesterday (via recorded television — yes I went home and watched ) this was an awesome uprising for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. Looking forward to tuning in next year to see Kenyon play!

  12. What happened to the little female pitcher? Wasn’t she on this team? All I hear about is the young men. No mention of her. Perhaps I have the wrong team?

    I’m glad they did so well. They should be proud of themselves. But I think a parade through Chicago is a ltitle bit of overkill for a bunch of 12-year-olds.

About the Author

Anedra Kerr
Anedra Kerr

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.