LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL: Tunkhannock Earns Community’s Support Before Trip To World Series
This may very well be remembered as “The Championship Summer” for a handful of families in Tunkhannock.
Having already won district, sectional, state and regional championships, Tunkhannock’s majors softball team departs Monday for the Little League World Series in Portland, Oregon.
But while the glory belongs to the players, manager Tim Hannon also credited a support group that starts at home and branches out to all parts of the community.
“The parents have already spent a week in hotels for states, another week in traveling to Connecticut for regionals,” Hannon said. “Their expenses and vacation time and whatnot has really piled up. It’s difficult for parents to try to come up with several thousand dollars to be able to watch their kids play softball.”
So, while Little League covers the expenses of the players and coaches in their cross-country trip, a team mom has organized a fundraiser to help pay for the families, as well.
As of Tuesday night, the GoFundMe — “Help 13 Girls Take On The World” — had raised $22,322 of its $55,000 goal, which comes to about $4,000 for each of the 13 families.
Because the GoFundMe was originally started for the Eastern Regional tournament in Bristol, some of the funds have already been withdrawn.
Money donated will go directly toward the families’ travel, lodging, food, and car rentals.
“The parents, the families deserve a lot of thanks; along with the local community for the support,” Hannon said. “We have a lot of people to be thankful for because, without them, we don’t get to where we are.”
Bob Hegedty, a resident of Tunkhannock and coach of its varsity softball and wrestling teams, is one of many area residents following the team.
With the games being broadcast online on ESPN+, Hegedty said he’s watched some of the action at Bogeys Grille at Shadowbrook Resort.
“It’s exciting. We were rooting for them all the way,” Hegedty said. “We’re proud of what they’re doing ... and there’s a lot of people pitching in and helping. It’s just a really good atmosphere in town right now.”
Hannon said he watched closely the last two years as Hegedty’s Tigers won back-to-back District 2 Class 4A championships and made deep runs in the PIAA tournament.
It makes sense, given that Hannon and his assistant Jason Wisnosky are assistant coaches for Tunkhannock’s junior-high team.
“The coaches down there are doing a phenomenal job with those kids,” Hegedty said of the majors staff, which includes Hannon, Wisnosky and Bill Huff. “They’re really working hard with them. We’ve had a good group of kids for the last few years — from all of our local Little Leagues in the area.”
There’s a Pool A and Pool B in the Little League World Series. Tunkhannock, as the United States East Region champion, is in Pool A with teams representing Canada, Europe/Africa and the southeastern and western parts of the U.S.
Tunkhannock has games scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 8; 10 p.m. Aug. 9; 7 p.m. Aug. 10; and 12 p.m. Aug. 11. All games will be streamed on ESPN+. Visit espnplus.com for more info.
Hannon said making the Little League World Series — as well as winning all the championships along the way — was a goal his players set from the beginning of the postseason.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a very motivated group of girls who are very athletic and who work very hard,” Hannon said. “These girls, most of them play and practice year-round. So we (coaches) are just there to basically keep them focused, keep them sharp, and kind of refine the skills that they need to keep going.”
The fundraiser is online at gofundme.com/help-tunk-softball-get-to-regionals. Donations will also be accepted at People’s Bank in Tunkhannock.
Parent Katie Wisnosky listed some of the fundraising events going on around town, too, like a bake sale Thursday evening at Stately Pet Supply in Clarks Summit; a dunk tank and coin drop 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Triton Carnival; as well as a sale at Finan Detail, which is selling custom T-shirts for $15 with all proceeds benefiting the Tunkhannock families.
She also mentioned that a group of local businessmen and businesswomen assembled to solicit donations.
“Tunkhannock always has a very strong showing at community events — any event related to our elementary or high school students,” said Katie Wisnosky, a teacher in the school district. “To walk into the stands (at regionals in Connecticut) and see the stands full of people who traveled three hours ... that in itself was extremely motivating.”
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