The first day of the tournament started on Sunday, but there were no games. The teams had three things to do on this first day, registration, opening ceremonies / parade and the skills competition (Skills competition is covered in the next post). The following provides tips and tricks to make the most of this first day.
Team registration was from 10am to 1pm. Our team showed up at 11:45. Unlike the Cooperstown Dreams Park events with over 100 teams competing, there were only 15 premier level teams competing in this tournament across three age levels. (4 - U11, 7 - U13 and 4 - U14), so the registration process was very fast. The select level tournament that will compete next week at the same venue has attracted 66 teams across six age levels (U8 - U13), so the registration process might take longer.
Tip One: Check the Nations website and see how many teams are competing. If the number is low registration will take 15 minutes.
Tip Two: A team picture is taken after the registration, so the team should go to registration in full uniform. Some teams wore uniform tops and allowed their kids to wear shorts for their team picture. It is up to the coach.
Opening Ceremonies and Parade
Nations holds a opening ceremony and parade in downtown Gulfport, Mississippi, not at the Nations Baseball Complex. The idea is a good one, especially for the younger teams, but with so few teams participating, it was a 10 minute parade.
|Nations Baseball Parade - Gulfport MS|
|Older teams should participate for siblings|
|Airr Force Honer Guard|
|Local TV News Coverage|
The teams gathered at the corner of 23rd Avenue and 14th Street and were given Mardi Gras style beaded necklaces to throw to the crowd. Several floats, a couple of costumed mascots from local teams, a fire truck and an Navy Honor Guard participated in the 2 block parade. The siblings of the team members had a blast collecting the beads. The local news covered the event and interviewed our most comedic parent. The director of the Nations Premier National Championship tournament, Ron Mathis, gave a short speech. He talked about this inaugural premier level championship event, the brand new venue and the plans for the future. The goal is to one day make this premier level event a qualifier for a true World Series with teams participating from every state and many countries. The future sounds good, but this year's event is no where near that vision with only 7 teams competing from 6 states.
Tip One: The kids wore their uniform tops and cool comfortable shorts for the parade. It was just too hot in Southern Mississppi to parade in full uniform.
Tip Two: Several teams decided not to participate in this part of the event. I guess it is up to the coach, but all teams should have participated for the siblings.
Tip Three: The city hosted the event and had port-a-potties and a refreshment stand. The city was ready for the Premier National Championship even if Nations Baseball was not quite ready.
The Main Point
This event is new and Nations Baseball has not worked out all of the kinks yet. Nations Baseball needs to do a better job publicizing the event to get more teams here and quite frankly better teams here. This is a great venue and I believe that one day it will be a great event that crowns a true national champion. Regardless, our kids are having a blast and so am I.