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World Series a family affair for players

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North State head coach Brian Fields, right, talks with his son, player Drew Fields, during an autograph session Friday in Williamsport, Pa.


The Daily Reflector

Saturday, August 26, 2017

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — For nearly two weeks, the 13 players on the Greenville North State team playing in the Little League World Series have been making special memories with their families.

Drew Fields is a part of that group, but the memories he is making with his parents are just a bit different.

Fields and his teammates are one win away from a series championship. They take on Lufkin, Texas, in the United States championship game at 3:30 p.m. today in a game that will be televised nationally on ABC.

The rest of North State’s players will have their parents in the crowd cheering them on. Fields shares the dugout with his father, head coach Brian Fields, and his mother, Wagner Grubb, is the team mom, who has worked tirelessly to organize and direct the team’s trip to Pennsylvania. It all makes for a unique experience for the 13-year-old center fielder.

“It’s been crazy,” Fields said. “It’s just like a vacation with my parents. It’s like summer just keeps going on, because all my friends are here and all, but we also get to play in the Little League World Series. It’s pretty awesome.”

He and his father already “have a really close relationship with baseball, and with just me and him,” he said. “We’re making a great connection and memory.”

This final weekend of competition is the end of an odyssey stretching into its sixth week, which began with a trip to Morganton for the state tournament in July. A win there sent the players and their families to Warner Robins, Ga., for the Southeast Regional, where they were victorious again to earn a trip to Williamsport.

While the players’ parents have traveled and supported the team, Brian Fields and his son have been sharing the experience in a special way together in the dugout.

“It’s awesome,” said Brian Fields, whose other son, Tanner, also played baseball and is in Williamsport supporting the team. “It’s just amazing to be able to be right beside him as they go through this experience, and not just baseball, but watching him and these other players interact with kids from around the country and around the world. ... It’s just awesome to be there and watch him and enjoy and interact with all those people.”

A World Series championship is the ultimate goal for each player on North State’s team, but an added bonus to the thrill of competing in front of a worldwide audience has been the opportunity to interact with players from across the nation and across the world.

As team mom, Grubb’s time has been spent trying to make sure the entire trip stays pointed in the right direction, but when it comes to what her son is gaining from the experience, all the stress feels worth it.

“To be able to sit up there and watch him play and watch him enjoy hanging out with his buddies has been absolutely incredible,” Grubb said. “As a parent, you kind of look at it from a different perspective, because you enjoy seeing the excitement that they have. That just fills your heart and it makes you think that this whole thing is just an incredible experience.”

Drew Fields and his parents aren’t the only ones soaking in the experience. Player Chase Anderson has gotten to spend some of his time on off days with his parents, Mandy and Brent.

Having gotten so close to a peak that teams from across the country shoot for, Anderson said the opportunity to have his parents in Williamsport with him is a way for them all to enjoy the benefits of the hard work his parents put into grooming him as a baseball player.

“They’ve helped me train since I was 3 years old, helping me get stronger and better,” Anderson said. “You can’t beat it.”

While the players have spent a large portion of the week sequestered in the compound where they are staying, there have been opportunities for them to interact with their families and share an experience few get to have.

Player Will Casey is sharing the trip with his parents, Jim and Jill. Casey said this particular family trip was the culmination of something they have desired for years.

“It’s fun because you hang out with them and have fun watching games with them,” Casey said. “We always dreamed about wanting to come here, and now we finally made it.”

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.


North State, Texas to tangle for US title: C1

Full coverage including previous stories, photos and videos: reflector.com/northstate

The Daily Reflector will publish a commemorative edition on the team’s run on Sept. 7