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BY ZACH WILLIAMS | Two Downtown Little league softball teams received state recognition on Oct. 16 for going where no Manhattan team has gone before.
Dozens of local parents, players and their siblings assembled at the Battery Park City Ballfields at night to see State Senator Daniel Squadron honor the teams for their respective state championships this summer in the 11 years-old and under (11u) and 14 years-old and under (14u) divisions.
Photo opps would be obligatory. Proud parents took even more pictures of the two teams clad in their blue and white uniforms. One parent spoke up from within the crowd reflecting what might just have been on others’ minds.
“It just keeps going on and on and on,” said the parent of the continuing saga of the two teams.
Just three years ago, the Downtown teams did not stack up much against the city competition. Then this year it all came together as the two teams kept winning in spectacular fashion.
The 11u team bounced back from an early section tournament loss to Staten Island before eventually winning the state championship in late July. While the 11u team had no national tournament to go to, the 14u team would continue to the Eastern Regional Tournament, the last round before nationals. They beat Delaware but were knocked out of the tournament following a 4-2 loss to New Jersey on Aug. 4.
Two months later, the accolades continue. Enthusiasm ran strong as parents kept shooting away with their cameras. This was after all not just an accomplishment for the players, but also for the parents who themselves harbored childhood dreams of glory on the ballfield.
Yet, one mother was missing.
There was a problem, Squadron was due to arrive at any minute but one of the championship trophies was missing. Just in the nick of time, Maggie Marino, mother of 14u slugger Sophia, arrived following a heroic run to nearby Gateway Plaza and back.
Upon a fashionably late arrival, Squadron would present each player with a copy of an official proclamation in honor of their achievements as well as take individual photos with each player.
“People think about all the great things about Downtown but all too often they forget two parts of what you represent,” Squadron told the teams.
This is a neighborhood with a “Main St. USA” spirit and some serious athletic prowess, he added.
Much of the competition questioned where a team from Lower Manhattan would even have space to play, according to 14u manager Joe Marino, father of Sophia. In contrast to years past when other teams were rather unwilling to play the fledgling Downtown teams, coaches from throughout the city now seek advice on how to build a successful Little League program for boys and girls alike, he added.
Ava O’Mara, who played on the 14u team, told Downtown Express, reflected on the event.
“I guess its something that as a team you think its interesting but you don’t really think it has an effect on other people besides you,” she said. “It’s cool to see it has an affect on someone like a senator.”