The 11-12-year old Elite Aces of Covington are truly what their name says they are — elite.
For seven days and six nights beginning Saturday, the Elite Aces will travel to compete in Cooperstown Dreams Park and American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational Tournament in Cooperstown, New York. While there, all members of the Elite Aces will be enshrined in the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.
Between May 31 and Aug. 29, for 13 weeks, more than 100 teams will participate in weekly national tournaments at Cooperstown Dreams Park. In order to be selected, teams have to submit their resume and roster about a year in advance, according to head coach Donnie Coe.
“There’s 13 weeks where they do it. Every session has 104 teams,” Coach Donnie Coe said. “You’re guaranteed seven games. You get six pool play games and then starting on Wednesday it starts a single-elimination tournament of the 104 teams. You get six games for seeding purposes.
“Looking at the teams, they’re from all over the country. Some from Hawaii, Arizona, California, New York, Texas. There are 26 teams from the state of Georgia going so hopefully we run into teams from other states so that we don’t play the same teams from Georgia that we (might have) ran into before.”
The Aces went 28-18 this year. In the two years they have been together, they’ve yet to win a tournament, but they have plenty of strong finishes under their belt. The Aces have placed third a couple of times and made it to the finals once Coe said.
“We got a good mixture of kids. We got some talented kids, some big kids, some small kids, some fast kids. We got a little bit of everything,” Coe said jokingly. “They’re a good (group). They’ve been playing good baseball.”
Teams will stay in the Baseball Village clubhouses, where they will be provided three meals daily in the team-dining pavilion.
Each team/player will have a photo session and receive personalized Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball cards. Team photos and records will be displayed in the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.
Players will also receive a Cooperstown Dreams Park home and away jersey, socks, hat and an American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame ring, but none of it comes cheap.
“Each player was required to pay $1,000 so it’s a pretty expensive tournament,” Coe said. “We’ve been doing fundraisers. We did barbeque plate sales; we did a team yard sale. We’ve done quite a few fundraisers. We did a raffle, raffled off a couple items. Just trying to do whatever we can to raise funds to offset the cost.”
“Most of these families have multiple kids playing sports, but (this tournament) is kind of the granddaddy of them all where everybody wants to go it,” Coe said.
Since 1996, the Cooperstown Dreams Park experience has allowed players, coaches and family members to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and compete against players from around the country for a weekly “Tournament of Champions” national title.
Each team will have a representative participate in the four skill competitions.
“We’re looking forward to the skills competition. Right now it looks like Tate Marks is going to represent us in the homerun derby. The ‘Fleet Feet,’ which is the fastest around the bases, Garrett Mitchell will represent us in that. The ‘Golden Arm,’ which is the throw from centerfield, JT Webb is going to represent us in the ‘Golden Arm,’” Coe said.
Little majors’ stadium is a stadium at the park similar to a full-on stadium that you see in the Little League World Series, according to Coe. The top 25 get to showcase their talent in that stadium.
“We could play tournaments all over the place around here and everything, but to be able to go up there and stay in barracks, each team has their own barracks to stay at and pretty much just baseball all day. It’s a really neat experience for them,” Coe said.
“Hopefully we’ll do well in our six pool play games and do well in the bracket and bring some hardware back to Newton County.”