Four childhood friends, all members of a small baseball club in Curl Curl, have been selected to play for New South Wales at the Australian Youth Championships in Redcliffe on Monday.
The boys – Zac Morris, Dan Mills and James Lander, all 16, and 15-year-old Luke Donaghey – are part of the all-conquering Manly Seasiders Baseball Club.
The Seasiders are the little club that could. From a playing base of 140 juniors the club fielded three U/16 teams in the Manly Warringah District Junior Baseball competition.
The teams ran first, second and third.
Ten Seasiders were subsequently picked in the 14-man Manly representative team – that won the Senior League of the NSW State Championships.
Then they won bronze in the Australian Senior League Championship in Geelong.
And you could say their club is a bit proud of them.
“We could’ve had our own team at the nationals!” Seasiders President David Gledhill quips.
“Seriously, though, they’re bloody good guys. An exceptional bunch.
“They’ve stuck together since T-ball, worked hard and we’ve built the culture around them.
“Always been a strong age group; they’ve won a lot of trophies.”
The MWJDBA competition has four clubs – Seasiders, Forest, Warringah, Pittwater. For the Manly rep team to finish third in Australia behind powerhouses Eastern Athletics (from Victoria) and Cronulla – with 10 of 14 players from one club – is unprecedented.
Training for the four boys in the NSW team has been three times a week for the last 10 weeks at Blacktown International Sportspark. They’ve played trial matches, too. Their parents have become elite car-poolers.
Yet it’s been a lot of fun, according to Zac’s dad Sean Morris.
“It’s a great club there at Curl Curl,” Morris says. “They’ve just got great volunteers. Dave Gledhill, the president, does a lot of coaching. Greg Donaghey, the same.
“It’s a great environment to get better at baseball because it’s so enjoyable to do.”
Gledhill agrees: “We spread the [rep] players across our three teams, and they all get on well, train together, work together.
“Some of them saw what could happen early and they liked what they saw.
“So they went back and kept working at it.”
Morris says his son and his pals have ambitions towards US college baseball and after that “who knows?”
Above all Morris says his journey’s been a “great buzz” for son and family.
“Zac and his mates are four boys who’ve grown up together in Curl Curl and started off in T-ball as five- and six-year-olds.
“Now they’re off to the national titles, playing for the state!
“They’ll be playing against the best ball players in Australia.
“They’re really excited about it,” Morris says.
Follow the action of the Australian Youth Championships at Redcliffe from Monday July 4 in these e-pages, on social media via #AYC2022 and at Baseball Australia’s website.