Thousands of people will be converging in Bristol this weekend for the Little League Regional Tournaments.
Manchester will be representing Connecticut in the New England Region.
It’s the first time the Manchester team has ever made it to regionals.
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They defeated Wilton at the state championship.
“It’s great because we feel like we made history for our town,” Ryan Gorman, a third baseman, said.
“You know, thinking of the number of kids playing in Connecticut and for us to be here is pretty big,” Rob Rastelli, the coach, said. “It’s not that any of those teams were an easy task. They gave us all they had and we had to fight to get by them.”
But this year things will be quite different as the league follows COVID safety protocols.
The players will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive on Saturday and every subsequent day after if they are unvaccinated.
“If a positive does come back we can make sure that the other teams still have the opportunity to participate. That’s why we’re going to be socially distancing and not have teams intermingling as much as possible. So that, hopefully we can get through the event and have all kids and all attendees safe,” Kiley Johnson, the east region director for Little League International, said.
Also, instead of having unlimited fans, each team gets a maximum of 250 passes for family or friends. So, a total of 500 fans will be in attendance at one time. Those fans can only watch that particular game and then need to leave the facility to help contain the crowd size.
But the Little League international staff is excited to host the regionals again after having to cancel in 2020.
There’s also a unique opportunity this year.
Out of the 12 state championship teams, four will be able to advance to the Little League World Series.
“With our safety protocols in place for this year we’re not going to be able to have international teams at the World Series, so this year both the champion and runner up will be traveling to Williamsport,” Johnson said.
The regional tournaments are Aug. 8 through 14.