Expenses take backseat for traveling parents
|||Hilo rolls into Ripken title game|
By Ernie Clark
Special to The Advertiser
By Ernie Clark
BANGOR, Maine — The price to be paid for following sons in their quest to be world champions has been, in a word, priceless for the parents of the Pearl City Senior League baseball team.
Each of the past two summers, Pearl City has advanced through district and state tournaments to U.S. West regionals in Oregon, then across the continent to this most northeastern of venues on the Mainland — some 5,154 miles from home.
And the year before that, many of this same group of players and parents made the trip to Taylor, Mich., home of the Junior League World Series.
More than three weeks together on the road for three straight years has brought families together as one, sharing the same emotions, living both the exciting and mundane collectively.
"We depend on each other a lot," said Chandra Sugitaya, the mother of Pearl City second baseman Cody Sugitaya. "We try to help each other out in terms of getting from one tournament to the next, trying to find places to stay."
The exciting moments come on game days, the mundane along the trail that has led this group to Mansfield Stadium.
"We just try to organize everything for the boys," said Candace Acosta, the mother of infielder Ryne Acosta and the designated "team mom."
"Not only the meals that Bangor provides for the boys, but special meals the boys want, different potlucks if there's something we want to feed the boys, any kinds of outings for the boys on their days off, laundry, we try to make sure the boys have everything they need. Everyone shares the load."
Those parents also share something else — financial sacrifice. While travel costs for players and coaches to tournaments on the Mainland are picked up by Little League Baseball and meals and housing are provided by the host tournament committee, the parents must pick up their own tab.
For the Pearl City parents, success adds up.
"With our plane flight and everything, I think it's over $5,000 so far this year," Acosta said. "For the past three years my son has made the World Series, and we still haven't recovered from the first two years.
"But it's worth it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him, something that I can be here with him and enjoy."
As for the sacrifice, it's a small price to pay — at least until the bills come in.
"A coach my son had about seven years ago told the team back then that the key to baseball is to make your parents spend as much as they can," Sugitaya said. "So after the first year he said, 'Mom, I did what coach said.'
"We thought it was once in a lifetime, and now here we are for the third time. This is priceless."