When a team finally pushes its way through the regional tournament and earns a berth to South Williamsport for the Little League World Series, it's a great feeling for everyone on the roster and in that community.
But towns that have had Little League teams make it to the series know, for as much fun as it is to cheer on their hometown heroes as they take on teams from across the globe, it doesn't come without some financial burden.
By the time a team plays in the regional tournament, things have already started getting costly for its local Little League program and the families of the players. With most teams traveling hundreds of miles to play in states and regionals, the collective cost of food, gas, and hotel fees can range in the thousands of dollars. Once they work their way into the Little League World Series, the prices really start to skyrocket.
Pearland Little League from Texas, with coach Don Smith, right, and player Matthew Adams (13), are one of 16 teams at the Little League World Series. While all the teams celebrated their berths, they also must find ways to get as many people as they can from local play to regionals to Lamade Stadium.
With teams coming into South Williamsport from all over the world, it's not hard to understand why the trip is so expensive. The two teams with the furthest to travel, Australia and Japan, trek more than 9,000 miles just to get here; most others have to travel at least a thousand miles. Costs associated with flying support for a 14-kid team and coaching staff that distance are pretty steep.
For most teams in the series, it takes upwards of $10,000 for them to make the journey. That isn't an easy amount of money for any Little League program to come by, especially when the costs of just keeping a program running - let alone flying a team half-way around the world - can be so expensive.
It is for this reason that the majority of teams turn to their communities to help them raise the money they need to make it here.
LLWS field and schedule
South Vancouver LL, Vancouver BC
Guadalupe Linda Vista LL
Miguel Luzunaris LL, Humacao, P.R.
Coquivacoa LL, Maracaibo, Venezuela
Thursday, August 14
Game 1: Asia Pacific vs. Europe-Africa, 1, Volunteer, ESPN
Game 2: Great Lakes vs. Northwest, 3, Lamade, ESPN
Game 3: Caribbean vs. Australia, 5, Volunteer, ESPN2
Game 4: Midwest vs. West, 7, Lamade, ESPN2
Friday, August 15
Game 5: Mexico vs. Canada, 1, Volunteer, ESPN
Game 6: Mid-Atlantic vs. Southeast, 3, Lamade, ESPN
Game 7: Latin America vs. Japan, 5, Volunteer, ESPN2
Game 8: Southwest vs. New England, 8, Lamade, ESPN
Saturday, August 16
Game 9: Loser G1 vs. Loser G3, 12, Volunteer, ESPN
Game 10: Loser G2 vs. Loser G4, 2, Lamade, ABC
Game 11: Loser G5 vs. Loser G7, 5, Volunteer, ESPN2
Game 12: Loser G6 vs. Loser G8, 7, Lamade, ESPN
Sunday, August 17
Game 13: Winner G1 vs. Winner G3, 12, Volunteer, ESPN2
Game 14: Winner G2 vs. Winner G4, 2, Lamade, ABC
Game 15: Winner G5 vs. Winner G7, 5, Volunteer, ESPN
Game 16: Winner G6 vs. Winner G8, 7, Lamade, ESPN2
Monday, August 18
Consolation: Loser G9 vs. Loser G10, 11, Lamade, ESPN2
Game 17: Winner G9 vs. Loser G15, 1 Volunteer, ESPN
Game 18: Winner G10 vs. Loser G16, 3, Lamade, ESPN
Game 19: Winner G11 vs. Loser G13, 6, Volunteer, ESPN2
Game 20: Winner G12 vs. Loser G14, 8, Lamade, ESPN2
Tuesday, August 19
Consolation: Loser G11 vs. Loser G12, 12, Lamade, ESPN
Game 21: Winner G17 vs. Winner G19, 3, Lamade, ESPN
Game 22: Winner G18 vs. Winner G20, 7:30, Lamade, ESPN
Wednesday, August 20
Game 23: Winner G13 vs. Winner G15, 3, Lamade, ESPN
Game 24: Winner G14 vs. Winner G16, 7:30, Lamade, ESPN
Thursday, August 21
Game 25: Winner G21 vs. Loser G23, 3, Lamade, ESPN
Game 26: Winner G22 vs. Loser G24, 7:30, Lamade, ESPN
Saturday, August 23
Game 27: Int'l Final: Winner G23 vs. Winner G25, 12:30, Lamade, ABC
Game 28: US Final: Winner G24 vs. Winner G26, 3:30, Lamade, ESPN
Sunday, August 24
3rd Place Game: Loser G27 vs. Loser G28, 11, Lamade, ESPN
Championship: Winner G27 vs. Winner G28, 3, Lamade, ABC
South Moravia LL, Brno, Czech Rep.
Seoul LL, South Korea
Tokyo Kitasuna LL
Perth?Metro Northern?LL?(W. Australia)
Pearland?LL, Pearland, Texas
Canyon Lake LL, Rapid City, S. Dakota
South Nashville LL, Nashville, Tenn.
Jackie Robinson West LL, Chicago
Cumberland American LL, Cumberland, RI
Lynnwood Pacific LL - Lynnwood, Wash.
Mountain Ridge LL - Las Vegas
Taney LL, Philadelphia
"The parents and the community help our team very much," Puerto Rico head coach Roberto Cruz said. "They always do some (fundraising) activities to help the team make it to all of the tournaments."
"They are willing to make all of those sacrifices because their reward is for the kids to be here."
Southern Nashville assistant coach Ryan Mullins agreed with Cruz on the importance of community support for teams who make it to the series, saying his group has relied heavily on the gracious donations of local fans to help make their dream of reaching South Williamsport come true.
"They are supporting us all of the way," Mullins said. "We have had a lot of sponsors and people who have helped us tremendously. We couldn't have made it without them.
"I know they will be tuning in to watch, so hopefully we can feel good about what we do here."
Along with local sponsors, many teams also turn to fundraising events to help raise money. These usually include raffles, bake sales, cookouts, and the selling of team merchandise. The Mountain Ridge Little League team from Nevada did all of those, and also went a more original route - selling root beer floats to help earn part of the necessary funds.
Aside from these more traditional avenues of monetary support, teams have also turned to the internet to help them with earn more cash for the trip. Websites like gofundme.com and youcaring.com are just two of the places they turn to online to help make them a little more financially solvent. Additionally, social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are good tools to raise awareness of fundraising events.
"The community has been unbelievable," Australia coach Grant Johnson said. "They have been behind us the whole time."
"We need that kind of support."
Johnson also pointed out that it isn't just hard raising the funds necessary to get the team to South Williamsport, it's also tough on the families that make great sacrifices to ensure they can be in attendance at the tournament. In fact, most teams that show up have a traveling group of dedicated fans that ranges between 50 to 100 people. They can miss a month or more of work to follow their team.
"We have had so many parents and grandparents make the trip, and that is such a long way," Johnson said. "A lot of people had to take out a second mortgage on their house just to make it across."
"They will be paying that off for the next 10-15 years, but they couldn't miss this experience of seeing the kids play baseball here."
The Great Lakes representative from the Jackie Robinson Little League in Chicago expects to have one of the biggest fan sections this year, with the exception of Philadelphia's Taney Little League, who will have a fan-base advantage for obvious reasons.
"We always have a huge group with us," Chicago assistant coach Jerry Houston said. "To be able to look out and see how many families make it to all the tournaments is a wonderful thing,"
Houston said that having such a supportive group behind his team is one of the reasons they have endured so much success this season. Without them, he said, his team might not be able to handle the stresses that can accompany playing in a tournament of this magnitude.
"It is good to have them here, because when times are tough and the pressure is high, these guys can always look out in the stands and see their moms," he said. "That is very encouraging for them."