There are approximately 95,451 miles of shoreline across the United States and its territories, including Puerto Rico. Throughout 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria absolutely devastated much of that shoreline, especially Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Irma was even the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. It was a Category 5 storm with 185 mile-per-hour winds for 37 hours straight, which destroyed buildings and home, leaving entire communities without power, and taking lives.
Puerto Rico has been resilient during their recovery efforts, but they still have a long way to go before things go back to normal. The island is looking for anything positive to latch onto so they can keep their spirits up. This year, the 2018 Little League World Series is that beacon of hope.
For the first time in its league’s history, Radames Lopez Little League from Guayama, Puerto Rico, is competing in Williamsport in the Little League World Series. The Puerto Rican team won the Little League Caribbean Region Tournament and hopes to win it all this year while simultaneously having the most fun of their lives and balancing the entire nation of Puerto Rico on their backs.
“I never gave up,” said Puerto Rico’s catcher Homircal Rodriguez. “We were hit by a hurricane, but baseball is my sport, and nothing was going to keep me away from my sport. I was going to play even if it was on the street.”
According to ESPN, as Puerto Rico opens play against South Korea, the team of 11- and 12-year-olds will look to keep their undefeated streak alive.
Guayama is a small coastal town on the southeastern part of the island. It was one of the hardest-hit areas from last year’s storms, as the storms reached landfall only 25 miles to the east of the town. Baseball provided the people of Guayama with a sense of normalcy as they tried to rebuild their community and their lives amid the chaos and confusion in the aftermath of the storms.
“We learned to play relaxed,” added Rodriguez. “We no longer have pressure; we only know that we have to play at our level. The hurricane taught us to be strong.”
According to SB Nation, the 16 Little League teams are split into two groups: the United States and International. Each bracket is double-elimination until each side is down to two teams. The winners will face off on Sunday, August 26 for the Little League World Series championship.
In addition to Puerto Rico, the other 15 Little League World Series teams include:
- South Korea
- Rhode Island
- New York
As fans watch in Williamsport and around the world, everyone is excited for the skill, competitiveness, and sheer joy that will be on display throughout the Little League World Series — but people will certainly be rooting for the children of Puerto Rico to win, or at the very least, have the time of their lives.
“The dedication they have for their development, their love for life, led them to overcome everything,” said Puerto Rico team manager Carlos Texidor. “With what we do have, we are going to do a lot. And that’s what I saw in the team, through the boys and the parents, and what they transmitted to others.”