For two years, the Colonial Heights Rebels 12U team has been raising money to enter the Battle of Omaha, a national tournament in Nebraska. While there, they will get to watch some of the evening games of the College World Series.
“They have worked lemonade stands, sold popcorn, went out and collected sponsorships, and they worked the fall Bristol race, parking cars … four days to help pay for this trip,” said head coach Travis Rasnake. “So there’s been a lot put into this, to get these kids out there. That’s pretty important to us.”
Meet the team
Rasnake coaches the 12-and-under team with Travis White, Jason Easterling and Danny Arnold. The 10 team members are Braxton Rasnake, Warren Hamilton, Jackson Light, Dayne Musick, Parker Senn, Lukas Easterling, Hagen Wendt, Kaleb Mabb, Nathan Arnold and Reed White; all but one of the team members are in sixth grade, and the other is in fifth grade.
Travis Rasnake, who is also an assistant coach of Sullivan South High School’s baseball team, added that most of the boys on the travel team have been playing together since they were 9.
“They’re all South zone kids,” Rasnake said. “In travel ball, you usually don’t have that; you have four or five future high schools represented amongst your team.”
Entering the tournament
Rasnake said the team plays most of its games in Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City, though they do travel to Knoxville and Pigeon Forge occasionally. At the end of each season, though, the team tries to take a special trip.
“Most teams go to the beach at the end of the season,” Rasnake said. “Well, we are fortunate enough to have every kid on our team has been to the beach, and in our entire program, parents included … four people have ever been west of the Mississippi. So we wanted to do something a little different.”
The team will be in Omaha from June 18-20 and will play five games against other 12U teams.
“We kind of have our own tournament there in Omaha,” Rasnake said, “and they try to get us off the field by 5 every day so you can go to the hotel, shower, change and get back at 7 for the evening games of the World Series.”
The tournament entry fee is $900, and it will cost nearly $570 for each player and their parents to stay in Omaha. The team hopes to raise $10,000 by May.
One way the community can support the Rebels is by sponsoring one of the players at the team’s 100-inning fundraiser, happening this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Sullivan South. Attendees can pledge a certain dollar amount per inning to one or multiple players, Rasnake said.
“We call it a 100-inning game fundraiser, and they basically get one pitch from a machine. They try to put it in play, and it’s a live practice for our guys. We do that for 300 outs,” Rasnake said. “The kids seem to have a good time with it, and we enjoy it.”
The team has already received support from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Colonial Heights and from local businesses. They also hope to run a lemonade stand at the Kingsport Farmers Market on May 2.
Those who can’t come to one of the fundraisers can mail a check to Rebels Baseball Association — Travis Rasnake, 4803 Lake Park Drive, Kingsport, TN 37664. Businesses interested in sponsoring the team should email Rasnake at email@example.com.
Rasnake added that without the support of the players’ family members, the trip wouldn’t be possible.
“I appreciate all these parents and grandparents supporting these kids,” Rasnake said, “because without them, we couldn’t do any of this.”
For more information, search for “Rebels Baseball” on Facebook.