It was a team that didn’t even exist not long ago … it’s a team that has been playing together for two months.
Yet, the Kingwood Blue Devils Pinto All-Star team has grown together in a run that is paying dividends on the field … and may well pay dividends off the field later.
Despite the fact that they have been playing together for a short time, the Blue Devils have gone on an amazing run that saw them go undefeated in three tournaments and win the first three games of a fourth tournament.
That qualifies them for the South Zone World Series tournament in Louisiana, which is coming up later in July.
The significance of going undefeated has not been lost on Blue Devils coach Dan Padula, especially since the team was formed just recently as well as the increased level of competition.
“Every tournament is a higher level of tournament, meaning it brings bigger and better teams,” Padula said.
On the last full weekend of June, in the Pinto Coast Region Championship in Deer Park, the Blue Devils faced the highest level of competition they’ve played thus far – Deer Park Maroon.
The Devils won their first three games against Deer Park before losing against them on Sunday and Monday. Though Deer Park ended up winning the championship and handing the Blue Devils their first taste of defeat since coming together, Padula considers it a great learning experience.
“Our team was undefeated and for our team to face the biggest and the best that there is, and that team has been established for at least a year, a lot longer than our team has been together, it was fantastic for us to have an opportunity to play the best that there is,” Padula said. He added that it was a good opportunity for the team to learn from the biggest pressure the team could have, and also experience what it’s like to lose. The South Zone World Series is the last time this team will be together; the lessons the teams will take forward in baseball and life will be indelible though.
“Our team has a very excessive emphasis on respect,” Padula said.
He went on to talk about the correlation between losses on the baseball field and challenges in life, about not always being on top, about knowing who superiors are and doing things one may not like doing because a coach orders a player to do it.
Padula said that when this team moves on, the players will take what they learned from this team about discipline and respect to their next teams with new coaches, into classrooms and into their homes.
Before the team goes to the South Zone, the team is having two different fundraisers. One is a simple GoFundMe account, and the second is a Facebook raffle, which is going to be held a week from Friday on Facebook Live.
In that raffle is a $500 gift card basket for local restaurants as well as VISA gift cards, with raffle tickets being sold at $10 apiece.