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Port Allen youth find solace in baseball

Written by Joelle Wright on .

BaseballYouyh-edited

Representing a community as a city councilman isn’t simply about making laws to benefit that community – it’s about making that community a better place for everyone, especially the children.

That’s exactly what Port Allen City Councilman Brandon Brown was trying to do when he helped to create the William and Lee Sports League, bringing youth baseball back to Port Allen.

Last year, Brown helped form the William and Lee Sports League and the Port Allen Pirates baseball team to revitalize youth baseball in the black communities of Port Allen.

“When I was little, we had six or seven (little league) baseball teams in our black communities,” Brown said. “Up until last year, there were none. We felt a need to bring baseball back to our community.

“Any sport will help kids with life, and teach leadership and sportsmanship, but in the summer there isn’t much going on,” Brown added.

Led by head coach Rashad Allen and assistant coaches Kevin Veal and Brown, the Pirates played in the Louisiana Sports League out of Baton Rouge in a 15-years-old and under division. Due to the low availability of older players, the Pirates also included players as young as 10.

Brown said that he really wanted to thank the coaches, who were with the boys almost every day from February through July, for their dedication to the Pirates players.

“What they did for these boys is great,” Brown said. “They deserve a lot of credit.”

The Pirates played eight other teams in the Louisiana Sports League. Most of the games took place in Baton Rouge, so in addition to being coaches, Allen, Veal and Brown occupied the chauffer roles as well to make sure that the team could get wherever they needed to be.

The Pirates lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Scotlandville Hornets, who were picked at the beginning of the season to win it all.

“Our hats go off to them — they are a great team,” Brown said. “I think that if we would have played in a younger league, we would have done a lot better. We were the youngest team in the league, and we look at this season as a learning season.”

Although some of the boys may have lacked in age and stature, they certainly didn’t lack attitude: take 11-year old Dy’novin Tillman, one of the Pirate pitchers.

Brown mentioned a game when an opposing team had a 15-year-old, 6’4” batter at the plate, and Tillman strutted up to the mound garnering some snickering and smack talk from the other team.

“Dy’novin didn’t care. He walked right up there and stuck him out,” Brown said. “He really surprised those big kids.”

In fact, Tillman, along with 15-year-olds J.T. Duhon and Omar Snearl, were selected as All-Stars for the Louisiana Sports League. Tillman also came in 2nd place in the league pitching competition and Snearl grabbed 2nd place in the home run competition.

The boys, coaches, and sponsors were honored with an end of season banquet last Friday at the Port Allen Community Center.

The team is thankful for Port Allen community members who sponsored the team and made the creation of the team possible.

“Mayor Richard Lee sponsored us before he even ran for office,” Brown said. In addition, Attorney Luke Thibodeaux, Attorney Edmond Jordan, entrepreneur Norman Brown, and Hall Davis & Sons Funeral Service all sponsored the team.

Edmond Jordan said that he was glad to do what he could for the team.

“I came up playing baseball in West Baton Rouge, and I felt that it had a positive influence on my life,” Jordan said. “Kids need to get out of the house. They need this experience.”

The team also made a trip to Metairie last Sunday to see the New Orleans Zephyrs (minor league team for Miami Marlins) play. They were also given the honor of singing the national anthem before the game.

Brown said that the boys don’t want to stop playing now that the season is over.

“These boys have a lot of attitude. They want to keep playing – they want to finish what they started,” he said.

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