The Falls Church Copperheads 12U baseball team, composed entirely of Falls Church Kiwanis Little League (FCKLL) alumni, just returned from an unforgettable week at Cooperstown Dreams Park. The tournament in Cooperstown NY is the world’s largest 12U tournament with almost 100 teams from across the country competing each week in what is typically the capstone to a Little League career.
The Falls Church Copperheads team consisted of 12 players: Henry Ackerman, Chris Capannola, Jude Fears, Gavin Hegenbart, Kemper Morrison, Elijah Petty, Patrick Scully, Gordon Teach, Jack Toman, Luke Torres, Jason Wattles, and Griffin Wishrad, and was led by head coach Julie Herlands, supported by coaches Bill Ackerman, Erick Torres, and Vincent Wishrad. All the players on this team have played for the Copperheads organization for several years and have represented Falls Church on FCKLL All Star teams as well.
Falls Church Copperheads is a youth travel baseball organization providing a positive environment to further develop the skills of advanced baseball players. The Copperheads approach focuses on development–as both players and teammates–and works to nurture the love of the game all within the context of a competitive baseball program.
Cooperstown Dreams Park has hosted youth baseball tournaments from June to August every year since 1996 (with the exception of Covid-affected summers). However, Cooperstown Dreams Park does more than just host baseball tournaments–it is an all-inclusive baseball summer camp that is popular with families from across the country. It is a family experience, where many parents enjoy cheering for their players during tournaments, bringing them to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and watching their young players continue to fall in love with the game of baseball.
During the tournament, which began on August 3, Falls Church Copperheads went 4-1 in pool play, earning them the 18th seed out of 88 teams. They earned three byes in bracket play, which automatically placed them into the fourth round of the tournament. The team won its first playoff game 16-4 and advanced to the next round. The Copperheads fell in the fifth round of elimination play against a tough Chicago team by a score of 5-2. The team played a total of seven games over the span of five days, finishing with a record of 5-2 with games against teams from California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
According to Coach Julie Herlands, “the Cooperstown experience for this Copperheads team was extremely special. After many years playing and competing together, to spend a week not only playing the game they love–but trading pins, playing wiffle ball, meeting players from across the country, and laughing–is a once in a lifetime experience. It has been my honor to coach these players and watch them develop as amazing ball players, teammates, and people–all of which was on display in this amazing Cooperstown week.” Shortstop Christopher Capannola stated “Cooperstown was the best week of my life. I had a great time with my teammates and meeting players from everywhere.”
Cooperstown Dreams Park’s field fences measure 200 feet from home plate and are specifically designed this way so that the kids who play 12U can hit home runs. Four of the Copperheads players were able to accomplish this feat: Luke Torres who hit a total of five home runs during games throughout the week also represented the Copperheads in the “King of Swat” home run derby skills competition, placing 3rd overall in a field of 88 hitters from across the country. Kemper Morrison, Gordon Teach, and Jack Toman also hit home runs during the tournament with one home run each.