Our View: Hazleton Little League Challengers are true hometown heroes

Player Brett Evancho, left, his dad John and sister Summer applaud during this week’s ceremony honoring the Hazleton Little League Challenger team at the Luzerne County Courthouse. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Life is short, and there is never enough kindness to go around.

That’s why we would like to add our voices to all of those who have been giving much-deserved pats on the back to the Hazleton Little League Challenger team for making it all the way to the Little League World Series in South Williamsport this summer.

Since 1992, Hazleton Little League Challenger has provided a way for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges to fulfill their dream of playing baseball.

The Hazleton team was one of only two chosen nationwide from a pool of over 950 possible entrants.

The team, whose players range in age from 4 to 22, faced off against the Highland Baseball Club from Evansville, Indiana, in the 2018 Little League Challenger exhibition game.

Not only does the team deserve kudos for its efforts, it was a truly classy gesture by Luzerne County officials to hold a ceremony for the players earlier this week under the County Courthouse Rotunda.

County Manager C. David Pedri announced each player’s name, and each received a T-shirt and a proclamation from County Council Chairman Tim McGinley.

“Honestly, it almost took my breath away,” team manager Joe Drauschak told reporter Dan Stokes. “They recognized the team effort from the kids, the parents and the coaches.”

The team also was honored at Hazleton City Hall earlier this month by Mayor Jeff Cusat.

To Pedri, McGinley, Cusat and all who organized these events, we recognize your efforts, and we thank you.

We believe Drauschak wasn’t exaggerating he said “This was the greatest moment of my life.”

“Being able to represent not only the city, and the state, but the entire nation with these great kids is something I’ll always cherish,” he added.

No doubt, sir, no doubt. And among players, the feeling was mutual.

“I was excited to play in the game,” Carlos Cespedes said. “But our coach is amazing.”

It sounds like these young folks can teach us all a lot about teamwork and respect, just as their coaches and families can teach us about dedication to helping the players achieve their dreams and have fun.

So once, more, with praise and admiration, members of the Hazleton Little League Challenger team include: Brett Evancho, Logan Taylor, Anais Siroki, Jimmy Novitsky, Olivia Novitsky, Tage Schmidt, Timothy Schmidt, Kayla Senick, Zachary Hallahan, Kevin Davis, Billy Francis, Michael Knipfer, Desiree Natt, David Drauschak, Lexi Mamourian, Savannah Pajovich, Carlos Cespedes, Justin Leonard, Grayson Schaub, Gabriel Reiss, Anthony Williams, Tom Kislan and Ryan Kislan.

— Times Leader

Player Brett Evancho, left, his dad John and sister Summer applaud during this week’s ceremony honoring the Hazleton Little League Challenger team at the Luzerne County Courthouse.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_Hazleton-Challenger-5-2.jpgPlayer Brett Evancho, left, his dad John and sister Summer applaud during this week’s ceremony honoring the Hazleton Little League Challenger team at the Luzerne County Courthouse. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader