CRYSTAL LAKE – Almost all of the 2017 Crystal Lake South baseball players walked through the parade of teams at the McHenry County Youth Sports Association’s Summer International Championships at one time or another.
But never had they done so as guests of honor.
The Gators’ IHSA Class 4A state championship team was honored at the MCYSA opening ceremony Thursday at Lippold Park. Nine players from the team attended, as well as head coach Brian Bogda.
Bogda said 25 of the 26 Gators on the championship roster competed in the MCYSA tournament growing up. Even two of his assistant coaches played in the event.
“We’re very fortunate to have this tournament a part of our community, and we’re very excited to share the state championship with our community here in Crystal Lake,” Bogda told the crowd Thursday. “It started here on these fields years ago when they played and developed the skills that they took to the state championship this past June.”
Nick Wolski, a senior on the team this spring, said he played in the tournament a handful of times. Wolski, 18, hit cleanup for the Gators at the state finals.
“It definitely is a different feel not playing the tournament,” Wolski said. “The kids walk in the same shoes as you did at one point. It’s very surreal. (I’m) just happy to be out here and to support the community and support baseball.”
Wolski said his best memory of the tournament is finishing third in the home run derby when he was playing in the 11U tournament.
“A lot of the Crystal Lake people came out and supported me,” Wolski said. “I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”
After two rainouts of the opening ceremony in the past week, the MCYSA finally had a pleasant evening for the event, which originally was scheduled for July 21.
Two of the fields at Lippold Park still were partially underwater Thursday because of recent rain. Even so, the tournament has used 30 fields across the county to make sure games are played.
The tournament’s first session – which started July 20 and ended Monday – had to be shortened because of the field conditions. Thursday was the first day
of the second session, and MCYSA President John Streit said all of the games scheduled for Thursday were played.
“They were saying there was potential for 2 inches of rain between midnight and 5 o’clock this morning,” Streit said. “It miraculously went away. We had a great day, got all the games in.”
The opening ceremony went on without a hitch, as well, concluding with a fireworks show.
Also honored at the event was Daniel Tenayuca, a 2015 Jacobs graduate, and Nick Albanese, a 2015 Marian Central grad, both of whom won the NJCAA Division II national championship with Kankakee Community College this spring.
Huntley grad Colin Lyman was not present, although he was acknowledged. Lyman helped Louisville baseball reach the College World Series in June.
Bob Blazier, a founding member of the tournament in 1993, also was honored.
This year’s MCYSA tournament features 162 teams, 21 of which played in both sessions. That included teams from Brazil, Japan and the Dominican Republic. Streit estimated more than 1,000 kids participated this year.