In some ways it was like any other baseball tournament. Great competition took place while the crack of the bat and the thud of the ball going into the leather glove was heard all around.
But the Crown Point 11-and-under travel baseball team got a lot more this past week at Lipphold Park in Crystal Lake. It was life-changing in many small ways.
Kids from Japan were trying out their English in line at the concession stand. A lad from Brazil was walking around the hotel wearing a Crown Point baseball cap.
C.P. 11 U competed in the Summer International Championship in the Nation's Baseball Organization, where 100 teams in three age-groups competed.
In their bracket, Crown Point finished second on Saturday out of 22 teams. They lost to Team Houston 7-0, but finished with an 8-4 record.
"We met a lot of guys who couldn't speak English real good," said Tyler Nelson, son of coach Bill Nelson. "They didn't say much, just 'Thank you' and 'OK.' We traded pins with a lot of these guys. We told them we were from Northwest Indiana, Crown Point.
"It was really cool. We had fun, especially beating Puerto Rico. It was fun beating them."
The head-turning started when C.P. beat top-seed Puerto Rico 5-2 in bracket play.
Jonathan Sabotnik and Dylan Matusak combined to four-hit the tournament's top team. Matusak also went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, Sabotnik went 2-for-2 and Christian Mojica had two RBIs.
The other members of the team were Ben Styka, Drew Davenport, Jake Mayersky, Matthew Regan, Mike Kantor, Zach McKenna and Nick Crook. The coaches were Nelson, Bill McKenna and John M Sabotnik.
"It was really cool playing with guys from different countries," Zach McKenna said. "They said they were happy to play with us, with different teams. They talked about the game and said good luck.
"Puerto Rico was upset after we beat them so they just left. We were all really happy we finished second because there were a lot of good teams there."
The cultural games made fast friends in some of the competitions that took place at the event. C.P. bat boy Bret Mayersky finished his race around the bases in 22.2 seconds.
That time wasn't near the top but he got a standing ovation from the packed stands for the effort he showed.
"Our goal was to win a couple games," Bill McKenna said. "This was a completely different level of baseball. After we beat Puerto Rico people started coming over and watching our team play. I can't say enough about how proud I am of these boys. For them to compete at this level is just awesome.
"It wasn't just the baseball. It was everything the kids got to experience."
Tyler Nelson, Dylan Matusak and Matt Regan were all named to the all-tournament team.