The calendar says it’s been a year.
The memories say otherwise.
“It feels like it was just yesterday,” said Reece Roussel. “I think about it almost every day, mainly at night. I still think how did we do that? No way.”
But, yes, they did it.
It’s been 366 days since then 12-year-old shortstop Stan Wiltz caught that line drive August 25, snatching the ball and a bit of history all at the same time.
Wiltz’s catch was the final out, putting the exclamation point on the magical run of the east bank team from River Ridge, which became the first team from Louisiana to win the Little League World Series with the 8-0 victory over Curacao.
“I still think about the process and all the practices we went through to get to that point,” Wiltz said. “It’s hard to believe that we ever did something like that. It’s so cool thinking back on it.”
Wiltz, like Roussel, still almost has to pinch himself, as you can tell by a recent conversation he had with his mother.
“Mom, can you believe we really went to the World Series and won?”
“I think over time it will probably resonate more for them,” said Pam Wiltz. “But for a 12-year old kid, when you’re living it, you’re just going through the motions of it. It’s hard to really take it all in while you’re there. It’s a testament to kids everywhere that anything is possible, and the sky is truly the limit.”
On Sunday, the Wiltz family watched ESPN2’s replay of the team’s victory over Hawaii in the U.S. championship game. Having been in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. for the actual World Series, it was their first time watching it on TV. Coach Scott Frazier has only watched it on television once also.
“It’s crazy just thinking how the kids seemed like babies in Waco (for the regionals) and watching them grow and seeing the confidence they picked up along the way was just unbelievable,” Frazier said. “I remember when I used to watch the Little League World Series and wonder how in the world kids play on that big stage with 30,000 people watching. We got to witness it firsthand. We told them to just go out there and have fun.”
While Frazier appreciates winning it all, he says the journey was about much more than that. It’s more about the time he spent with the 13 kids who became like mini-celebrities once they unpiled from that dogpile on the infield at Lamade Stadium.
“All the attention was crazy,” Roussel said. “Almost everywhere I went, people were asking ‘are you Reece Roussel?’ It just doesn’t seem real.”
It was the same way for his 12 teammates: Wiltz, William Andrade, Gavin Berry, Jeffrey Curtis, Ryan Darrah, Derek DeLatte, Marshall Louque, Connor Perrot, Ryder Planchard, Egan Prather, Alton Shorts and Peyton Spadoni.
They all stay in touch with each other and will likely continue to do so for the rest of their lives. And boy will they have plenty to talk about.
There were victory parades and Mardi Gras parades. Trips to the governor’s mansion and the White House. And even a ride on Air Force One.
But the most magical ride of all was the one to Williamsport, one that the entire state of Louisiana took with them on that unforgettable Sunday last August.