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Coach Bautista-Hardman’s daughter, Jaymi
Bautista-Geiger, a 20-year-old junior at Temple University (Philadelphia,
Penn.), is the head coach for the team that is named Gainesville Gold
Emily Hallman, a ninth grader at CHS, has played
softball for many years in Chiefland and the surrounding area, including
playing with the Chiefland Area Athletic Association, Chiefland Middle School
and travel ball with the Gainesville Gold Softball Organization.
Coach Bautista-Hardman said players on Gainesville
Gold International are from the Gainesville Gold Softball Organization as well
as other Florida softball groups.
Coach Bautista-Geiger, a junior at
Temple University, has played for the Peruvian National Softball Team since she
was 16 years old, her father said. She is an Oak Hall High School (Gainesville)
graduate. She pitches for Temple. Bautista-Hardman and his daughter have
Emily Hallman of Chiefland
A team of 12 top softball players are going from the
United States to Peru to play in a tournament that is happening between Jan. 12
and 19, Bautista-Hardman said.
The opportunity to participate in the international
tournament between players from Brazil and Peru, came on the heels of the Team
FLA participation in a tournament in Ecuador in September, he said.
The Peruvians have an international tournament and
they asked Bautista-Hardman if he could create and bring an American team.
Usually this match is only between Peru and Brazil, he said.
This is historic. This will be the first United States
youth team to travel to Peru to participate in an international tournament, he
The tournament is named the III Campeonato
Internacional de Softbol Infantil Sub-15 - AELU 2014.
The girls on Gainesville Gold International will play four
teams from Peru (AELU, Gigantes, Lima Softbol and Pachacutec) and three teams
from Brazil (Gecebs, Maringa and Tozan). This tournament has been held annually
for the last three years, he said.
For 2014, Coach Bautista-Hardman has requests from
Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay to bring youth teams for tournaments.
The girls who are all aged between 12 and 15 years old
are going to do more than only play softball, Coach Bautista-Hardman
There is going to be at least one major cultural trip,
two day trips and one shopping trip. The coach said there is no way the girls
would have gone without experiencing a shopping trip.
He wants them to bring back something even more than
having been in an international softball tournament from this experience of a
lifetime. He anticipates them being able to write about some of the things they
learn while visiting in Peru.
Parents are funding the trip. Parents are paying for
their own hotel and meals, he said. There are a number of parents,
grandparents, aunts and uncles going at their own expense.
Lodging, meals and ground transportation for the team
members, however, is being provided as a goodwill gift for this first-time
visit by the AELU. AELU stands for Asociación Estadio La Unión (Union Stadium
Association), where "Union" stands for the unity of the Japanese-Peruvian
Coach Bautista-Hardman explained that the
Brazilian-Japanese and Peruvian-Japanese communities have existed for
generations, going back 100-plus years. Among the cultural connections with
Japan are softball and baseball, he said.
Another aspect of this trip will be for the American
girls to try to conduct a clinic for younger girls in Peru while they are
there, he said.
As for any language barrier, the coach said many
Peruvian children know English. And since the AELU is part of the Japanese
community center for the Japanese-Peruvian families, most of the children will
have learned English.
Emily Hallman in action.
The coach said the team of Gainesville Gold
International includes Natalie Alegria, #21, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida Bat
Busters Elite 12U; Aleah Bryant, #15, of Live Oak, Gainesville Gold 16U;Cameryn
Chang, #12, Fort Lauderdale, Gold Coast Hurricanes 14U; Amanda Chang, #42, Fort
Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach Sharks 12U; Molly Crawford, #33, of Starke, Jax
Storm 18U; Haley Ellefson, #22, of Branford, Gainesville Gold 16U; Emily
Hallman, #1, of Chiefland, Gainesville Gold 16U; Michele Hines, #58, of
Jacksonville, Newberry Bandits 14U; Lauryn Markis, #34, of Jacksonville,
Gainesville Gold 16U; Nichole McClendon, #2, of Lutz, Gainesville Gold 16U;
Harli Phillips, #10, of Starke, Gainesville Gold 16U; and Cameron Trehy, #27,
of Bushnell, Gainesville Gold 16U.
As noted, there is Head Coach Jaymi Bautista-Geiger,
of Gainesville, Oak Hall Class of 2011, Temple University Class of 2015.
Assistant Coach Art Bautista-Hardman, Gainesville,
Santa Fe College, where he is an assistant coach.
The athletic trainer is Olivia Fernandes, CAT, of
Erie, Penn., who is a trainer at the University of Florida. And there is Team
Mom Melisa Chang of Fort Lauderdale, and Team Mom Teresa Phillips of
The location of the tournament is the AELU Community
Complex in Pueblo Libre, Lima, Peru.
Coach Art Bautista-Hardman said there are only going
to be 12 players because he did not want to bring more players, who would just
sit on the bench. Each player is athletic and adept. For instance, while
Hallman is an excellent catcher, she makes an outstanding shortstop, or can
cover second base.
To select this team of 12 to represent the United
States the Gainesville Gold Softball Organization conducted tryouts and
selected them from all over.
The Gainesville Gold program has assisted more than
100 athletes to play at the college level since the program's inception in
1996. The Gainesville Gold Organization takes great pride in supporting these
girls in their accomplishments, as it is quite an accomplishment to play across
the country at top schools.
When the charter bus rolled into Trenton, the
returning champions were greeted with a lights and sirens police escort to the
field where they won many games.
Head Coach Andrew Thomas spoke to a stadium full of
people Saturday evening immediately after his 14 assistant coaches and one
trainer were introduced.
"Everybody doubted this bunch," he said as he opened
his speech to the fans.
Some people looked at the size of the players on the
team, Coach Thomas said, and they doubted the Tigers. That's because they could
not see what was inside the players -- the biggest hearts.
In this video, the winning Tigers take the field. Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Copyrights Protected
parents may not have realized how much time, effort and work the boys put into
becoming the best football team in Florida 1A classification, Thomas said. To
attain this level of athleticism in football did not start in August, he
"We're going to start next week, for next year," he
told the fans.
Head Coach Andrew Thomas and his daughter Cece are seen moments after
the welcome home program.
The reason these players are champions, he said, is a
direct result of the amount of effort they put into reaching that level of
Coach Thomas noted his appreciation for Bill Deen,
"The Biggest Tiger Fan," who is also the head of the boosters. The coach said
this championship was a "dream come true" for Deen.
Shannon Smith and his father Larry "Snuffy" Smith are
two other people the coach said deserve thanks. These gentlemen, Coach Thomas
said, do a lot behind the scenes to help the team.
The coach said he is thankful for the support of the
administration at the high school, and especially for all of the assistant
coaches. He said the JV program is another factor that led to the success. He
said all of his assistant coaches are the best.
A big stuffed tiger with the state championship medal around its neck
sits on the field waiting to welcome back the winning team.
Quarterback Steven Smith (#1) gave a message to the
"All year, you've been feeding us," Smith said. "Now
we are full."
Before the team arrived, Tigers Varsity Cheerleading
Coach Christine Smith mentioned that the "The 12th Man" on the field of play
was "The fans, the band, and the cheerleaders." The girls she coaches were part
of the whole effort of the entire community to bring the Tigers to own
After the program, Coach Thomas spoke with
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Thomas said. "It's a
dream come true as a coach. You take over a program, especially one like
Trenton where no one would ever give us a chance to think we would win the
state championship in football. It’s unbelievable. It’s hard work by the kids
that made it all possible.”
As for next year, the coach said he and everyone are
keeping the standards high. And, the team is going to enjoy this win now.
The coach said that with the Trenton Tigers Varsity
Baseball Team winning the State Championship in the Spring and the Trenton
Tigers Varsity Football Team earning the winning the State Championship in the
fall, then “We might as well win it in basketball.”
There are many individuals who have watched the Tigers
for a while who rejoiced in their winning the state title in football.
One of those
has been the team chaplain for 11 years.
“One of the greatest things I have ever seen is for
the teenage students to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of
defeat,” Chaplain Rickey Whitley said. “Last year, it was the agony of defeat.
This year, it was the thrill of victory.”
One of the parents mentioned that the silver medals
from earning second place last year are good, but the gold medals of being
state champions are much better.
Melvin Adams (#5) holds a stuffed tiger mascot after departing from the
bus on Saturday evening.
Here is the Tiger roster according to Max Preps:
Stephen Smith (#1), Brooks Martin (#2), Melvin Adams (#3), Hamp Cheevers (#5),
Asa Maragoni (#6 ), Michael Smith (#7), Jacquez Powell (#10), Kenny Deen (#11),
Isaiah Polk (#12), Matthew Ketcherside (#13), Austin Guidry (#16), Randy Fuller
(#20), Kade Rogers (#21), Jacob Gamble (#22), Nic Higginbotham (#25), Trey
Sanchez (#30), Brooks Parrish (#33), Trevante McCleese (#34), Chad Brooks
(#44), Billy McKeefrey (#45), Tyler Sauls (#50), Dakota Harding (#52), Brian
Worley (#54), Brandon Lovelace (#55), Stephan Griggs (#56), Samuel Whitley
(#58), Josh Young (#62), Lane Langford (#64), Ryan Matthews (#65), Josh Mathis
(#66), Wesley Mansfield (#68), Steven Bass (#71), Cody Jackson (#72), Anthony
Milito (#73), Seth Lane (#75), Marcus Mannerstedt (#80), Ryan Holton (#85), and
Taylor Roland (#88).
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