Donors prove saving grace for North State
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Monday, August 28, 2017
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — As impressive as North State’s run to the final weekend of the Little League World Series was, the team’s players weren’t the only ones who stepped up and performed during their quest for a championship.
People from in and around Greenville rallied around and supported the team, and not just by traveling to Williamsport, Pa., to cheer them on. Hundreds of donors have stepped up to help the program with the enormous cost of travel to participate in the LLWS and the tournaments that preceded it.
North State’s run in the series ended Sunday with a 12-8 defeat in the consolation game at the hands of Mexico. The team was one of just four to be playing for the entirety of the 10-day tournament.
That means the players, their parents and siblings have been on the road for almost two weeks. Factor in the travel to Morehead City for the district tournament, Morganton for the state tournament, and Warner Robins, Ga., for the Southeast Regional, and it’s been more than a month of travel.
That adds up, especially considering the fact those parents have largely been out of work during that time. Wagner Grubb, the team mom whose son Drew Fields was a player on the team, said the families involved simply could not have made this trip happen without the help of third parties who have donated.
“We came to Williamsport in a little bit of shock, but thankfully our donors have stepped up and helped to ease that burden,” said Grubb, who estimated the cost of the team’s tournament travel is over $100,000 for the summer. “Greenville has given and given and given, and I can’t give enough thanks for that. We were blessed to be able to get donors to be able to cover our hotel for our stay here, and the hope is that some of the extra donations coming in will be used to help our families with expenses that were incurred before coming to this tournament, expenses adding up for those individuals who have missed three and four weeks of work.”
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, the GoFundMe page Grubb established to raise money for the team had donations from 291 people totaling $32,185 despite only being active for 12 days.
She estimated 40 to 50 businesses have donated to support the team and its families in one way or another. Numerous restaurants in town have given a portion of proceeds from sales at various points during their trip.
Marigail Matthijs is a teacher with the North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program. She and her husband, Hans, have been traveling with the team and their son, Matthew.
Matthijs said the donations from the community, as well as the support of employers, has gone a long way toward easing the burden of missing weeks worth of work for the sake of traveling with their children.
“It’s been a long road and we are ready to go home, but it’s been awesome, and our community has been awesome being behind us,” she said after Sunday’s game. “Hans’ work has pitched in so he could come here, and my boss has been awesome. The community support has just been the best and it’s been a great help.”
The GoFundMe page remains active for those who still want to help the team recoup some of the cost of its trip. It can be found online at www.gofundme.com/southeast-ll-greenvillenc.
The public that has reached out to help the team so much can see the players and coaches Wednesday night when they are honored with a recognition ceremony at Elm Street Park.
Head coach Brian Fields said after Sunday’s game he wasn’t sure what to expect when they got back, but that all the support — financial and otherwise — is appreciated.
“We’ve had individuals, we’ve had businesses, really the whole community get behind us financially,” he said. “Those traveling up here to see ball games, the texts, the social media, it’s just been great to see. ... I don’t think these guys, I don’t think myself, realize what’s going to happen when we get back to Greenville, but these guys deserve the recognition, and I think they’re going to be in for a good treat.”
Contact Jordan Anders at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.
MORE ON THE STORY
• North State falls to Mexico despite rally: 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
• A celebration will be held for the team at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Elm Street Park