“It’s really historic,” says Head Coach Jim Carter, “One of the things that I’m glad I can say I did in my life, that I went to Cuba.”
For a group of twelve year olds. A trip to the Pearl of the Atlantis may not bear the same weight as it does for their parents. That’s not to say they don’t understand how rare of an opportunity they have.
Little Leaguer Carter Monks says, “It’s just gonna be pure excitement. I think that for us to finally get there, all this hype is finally gonna be played out, and we’re finally gonna get to be there.”
In 2015, for the first time since the Cold War, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations, allowing some US citizens to travel to a country less than 100 miles south of Florida. The Burlington Based Cuban American Friendship Society was quick to set up opportunities.
“Several people asked me, ‘What about a tour for kids to go down and play against Cuban teams?'” recalls trip organizer Tom Simon, “And I said ‘Boy, that sounds great. Let me see if they would be interested.’ So I ran that by the Cuban-American Friendship Society, and they said ‘Sure.'”
As a result, the Vermont team will play five games against Cuban opponents and plan to bring enough uniforms to trade after each one. This, not only important in the United States. At least one of the games is scheduled to be broadcast nationally on Cuban television.
Monks adds, “I think it’s gonna show that we’re starting to re-open long-lasting wounds and starting to mend and become better friends, like the way it should’ve been for a long time now.”
The kids have brushed up on the history. And this Sunday when they land in Havana, they’ll become a part of it.
By Steve Manney