Chicago's Jackie Robinson West All-Stars team headed to Little League World Series

The Jackie Robinson West All-Stars are headed to the Little League World Series, the first time a team from Illinois has gotten this far in more than a generation.
The Jackie Robinson West All-Stars are headed to the Little League World Series, marking the first time a team from Illinois has gotten this far in more than a generation.

The parents of these talented Chicago kids gathered at Jackie Robinson Park Sunday as their sons prepare for a shot at a championship.

"The kids worked so hard, this is a dream come true," said Donita Butler.

The Jackie Robinson West Little League team defeated all their opponents at the regional tournament in Indianapolis and Saturday's victory meant they advanced to the Little League World Series.

"I'm proud of the boys," Calandra Howard said. "They did really well. They fought back and they won. They won. It's just a great feeling."

The team went from Indianapolis to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, arriving Sunday evening with their coaches to get settled in and tour the facilities.

"We're trying to make the city proud the state proud. We need everybody's support," said Coach Darold Butler.

The 11- and 12-year-old boys representing several South Side neighborhoods will be the first all-African American team representing Chicago in the Little League World Series since 1983. Three suburban teams have made it to the series since then, including Norridge in 1986, South Holland in 1992 and Lemont in 2006.

"Me as a black man, to see these kids do something that hasn't been done in three decades, such great pride to see it first hand up close," Alvin Jones said.

"I think this will become one of those memories that will be everlasting for the boys," said Venisa Green.

"I knew as hard as these boys worked that something great was in their future," Sheree Hondras said.

The Jackie Robinson West team plays Thursday at 2 p.m. Chicago time in the opening round.
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