The Boys Are Back

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NOLL returns home from World Series

By Jason Stamm

No, it wasn’t Queen Elizabeth. It wasn’t President Barack Obama. It wasn’t even Justin Bieber.

With an escort that consisted of one white, state police Chevrolet Camaro, five fire department hook and ladder trucks, one state regular state police cruiser, one Oldham County police car and one La Grange police car in front and one state police cruiser, three sheriff’s cars and two La Grange police cars following, it was easy to get that impression.

The North Oldham Little League 12-year old all-stars were welcomed by a throng of well-wishers and followers Monday afternoon at their home field at Walsh Park.

Hundreds gathered in the outfield to wish cheer the players and coaches on their season, which ended at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. Aug. 22.

The team was also greeted with a celebratory gathering after winning the Great Lakes regional championship Aug. 13. But this one was a little bigger.

“It was a bigger surprise because there were a lot more people here,” NOLL’s Travis Faith said. “But it wasn’t that big of a surprise because we were here at regionals and coach told us this was gonna be here, but there was gonna be a surprise with it.”

Fans and supporters filed two lines with room in between for the players to walk through on their way to a trailer bed that served as a makeshift stage just beyond center field. The players were then read a letter from U.S. Army master sergeant Larry Gray, who also sent Kiley Kendall commemorative coins to give to each of the team members.

Kendall co-organized a charter bus with her husband Mitch Kendall to see NOLL’s first game of the World Series.

La Grange mayor Bill Lammlein then welcomed the team back home with a short speech in which he teased the team about the community support they’d received from their hometown.

“You guys may not realize it, but we’ve been partying for like three weeks,” he said with a chuckle. “We’ve had the best time at your all’s expense.”

Judge executive David Voegele had remarks of his own and read a letter from governor Steve Beshear.

North Oldham Little League president Brad Clifford also congratulated the team. Clifford played for and coached in the league and has been president for the past 11 years.

“One word that describes everything is it was ‘amazing,’” he said. “I always believed that it takes a lot to get to the World Series. I always felt that any team can get there from this place. This year, this group of players and coaches did it.”

After the 45-minute procession of congratulatory speeches, the players all lined up alongside each other sitting on metal folding chairs and signed autographs.

“I actually keep Sharpies with me,” manager Brad Bates said. “I’ve had ‘em for two weeks. After the first few days, they got such a following of just local fans. It’s like traveling around with The Beatles.”