FORT POLK, La. — When you’re a kid, there’s nothing like playing baseball. It’s part of summer culture right along with snow cones, swimming, hot dogs and lazy days. When the season is done, kids move on to other summer pastimes until the next school season looms. As Fort Polk kids head back to school, it’s worth taking note that something a little different happened this baseball season.
When the regular baseball season ended, an All-Star team was formed and a few Fort Polk kids got to extend their baseball season for a little longer.
“This is the first time in 11 years that Fort Polk has had an All-Star team, ages 7 to 8,” Brian Lowman, co-captain of the All-Star team, said.
Fort Polk had five little league baseball teams during its regular season and pulled the All-Star team from those rosters.
In the beginning, Lowman said they didn’t even know having an All-Star team was an option. Lowman is a dad and grandparent that has volunteered as a coach for years on his kids’ teams. So, he started asking questions.
“I feel that every military child should have the same opportunity as kids off post have. The problem is baseball season happens at the same time as block-leave, so there is a shortage of people who are available to take on all that is necessary to make an All-Star team happen,” Lowman said. “When I found out none of the kids had done this, I said lets do it. The kids and parents thought it was great.”
In building the program, Lowman noted that Fort Polk is at a slight disadvantage to other teams because military children move often. That means the All-Star team, named Fort Polk Americans — All-Star Team, is made up of kids who haven’t played together before.
“The teams we were playing against have children that have known each other and been playing together since T-ball. That can be tough, but it doesn’t mean the Fort Polk kids shouldn’t get the same opportunity as everybody else to play. That was my motivation for starting the program,” Lowman said. “All the other coaches have helped me, and it’s been a great experience.”
Four coaches participated, Lowman, his co-captain, Ryan Phillips, Douglas Roberts and Elshadi Haywood.
The All-Star team was made up of 12 military kids and one child of a Department of the Army civilian, who happened to be a girl.
“She is the only girl in the area that is actually playing on an All-Star team. The other parents in the area didn’t know they could,” Lowman said. “We went through the process to make sure it was allowed. She is six, and they let her play up to seven for the team. It’s pretty neat. She’s a doll,” he said.
For its first year, the Fort Polk All-Star team competed in the sub-district tournament, which was in Leesville. They qualified to go to district. The team also won the sportsmanship award at the sub-district level.
The award was bestowed on the team at the district tournament that was held in Lecompte, Louisiana, June 30-July 3. The award was won due to the behavior of both the team and parents.
“The sportsmanship award is about how the team reacts on the field and the parents react in the stands. It’s voted on by the All-Star committee and the umpires. I think they were impressed with us, because we displayed hustle, didn’t back talk the umps, didn’t have any bad language and displayed an overall positive attitude,” Lowman said. “There are some excitable parents out there. It can get wild and crazy, but our team represented Fort Polk well. The parents and team didn’t cause any issues or problems.”
Lowman was proud of the team.
“It makes me feel good from the perspective of the kids never doing something like this before and being successful. Setting up this program means Fort Polk kids will be able to do this next summer. That’s the goal,” Lowman said.
Lowman coached his grandchild on the All-Star team and said this is something he plans to be part of in the future. He said he can’t wait until next summer to do this again.