Woodbridge Little League Gets to Share Spotlight with President
By KJ MUSHUNG
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – He wasn’t sure the e-mail was real. Without warning, Will Whalen, a local Little League coach, was being asked to gather a team of players and appear at a rally with the president of the United States. He doesn’t get e-mails like that every day. Whalen didn’t know if it was legitimate or not, so he called the number and spoke with Jamie Lockhart, deputy political director with the Virginia campaign for President Barack Obama.
As it turns out, Whalen had coached the son of Jill Borak, an Obama For America volunteer and one of the rally’s more enthusiastic speakers. Borak had suggested the league’s appearance to event organizers.
The event was political in nature and would involve the children missing a day of school.
“I sent out an e-mail to the team families to see how much interest there was in participating. I was surprised at the level of response,” stated Whalen.
When all was said and done, nine Little League baseball players, ages 8 through 11 and dressed in uniforms, sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Obama’s campaign rally at the G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge on Friday, Sept. 21.
They were all from the Orioles team of Coles Fall Ball Little League.
Nathan McHale, Luke Whalen, Jared Link, Nick Olson, Drew Early, Greyson Garnes, Joel Clark, Bjorn Enge and Evan Bernbaum didn’t just get a moment in the spotlight on stage before the president spoke. They also got to meet him. Obama shook the players’ hands, signed a baseball for each one and posed for a photo.
“I should say that [Lockhart] and her colleagues — all the staffers and security folks — were really professional and went above and beyond for the kids to make sure they had a chance to experience something unique,” remarked Whalen. “The entire event came together in a way that was so impressive and they took the time to make sure the kids felt a part of it all.”
Nine-year-old Luke Whalen, the coach’s son, said, “It was great.” He also said Obama was very nice and added that the president gave him a high-five. Luke said the best part about the whole experience was sitting on the stage. He’s planning on happily telling everybody at school about it. After all, how many 9-year-olds get to high-five the leader of the free world?