By The Editor
There is a wonderful novel written by author Daniel James Brown called “The Boys in the Boat” (” The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics”). It’s the story about some working-class college kids who dreamed of gold medals in rowing and succeeded on the biggest stage of the world, The Olympics. (A feature-length movie based on the book will be released in December 2023). “The Boys in the Boat” is the saga of nine young men, most of them sons of loggers, shipyard workers, fishermen and farmers, who emerge from the abyss of the Great Depression and embark upon an unlikely journey that crescendos with a six-minute goose-bump ride to a gold medal. 
“Dream Big” as the saying goes. 
It’s been a long time since USA Softball has played for a gold medal. Decades since the early days of dominance by the USA, as the rest of the world caught up and then some.
The U-18 (formerly “Jr. Men”) Men’s National Team (MNT) dates back to the 1980s with various appearances in WBSC (ISF) World Cups. Finishing with a silver medal in its first two appearances, the U.S. has failed to earn a medal in its last 11 World Cup competitions despite strong performances through pool play and medal rounds.
For that reason, when I spotted a recent Facebook post by former USA softball pitcher Bill Hillhouse about the 2023 USA U-18 team, it resonated with me, spurring me to write this post, to encourage all of you to take note of this team and the remarkable run they have had this week at the Pan-Am tournament in Colombia.
Bill Hillhouse @HouseofPitching
USA 18u BOYs fastpitch team had a huge 2-1 win against reigning champs Argentina in the Pan Am event in Colombia. This team needs and is very deserving of more hype and following. It’s a shame they aren’t being promoted more. Families need to know there’s fastpitch for boys too!
Facebook and Twitter is full this week of many U18 players, family and friends chatting about the tournament. Those of us around the game would love to see it garner even more attention.
The crowds attending the games this week in Colombia have been encouraging, especially the nighttime games involving the host team, Colombia. The stands have been packed with more still ringing around the outfield fences. All of the games are being streamed live (and free), thanks to Luciano LoFrano and Softball Premier.
From my vantage point, I have been fortunate to be able to follow the “Jr. Men’s” program up close. In 2005, it was still the “ISF Jr. Men” in those days. They were playing in Summerside Prince Edward Island Canada that year. A teammates friend, Kevin Castillo played for the USA team that year, going up against the likes of Australia’s Adam Folkard. In 2008, we were invited by George Arcand in Whitehorse Yukon to do radio broadcasts of the games. It was an invitation that gave life to Ballpark Broadcasting, and many subsequent broadcast trips. The USA, didn’t medal that year, but played well, losing a tough 1-0 game to Canada, a team that went on to win silver. Being around the USA coach Tim Lyon gave me a different perspective on how the game should be played. The emphasis then, as it is now, with the present coaching staff, is developing the boys, both as athletes and becoming men.
Over the years, I’ve had a chance to see and broadcast many of the Jr. Men’s international competitions. Those boys, like the group in Columbia this year, share one thing in common, the dream.
All week long these boys have battled and come away winners 4 out of 5 times. Only yesterday did the take their first loss, 7-6 in 8 innings to a strong Canadian team who will be playing for a bronze medal today. Even in that loss, they experienced success. Down by five runs in the fifth inning, they scratched and clawed to tie the game with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, including a bases-loaded triple followed by a game-tying double. So, if they fall behind today, that come-back reflex will be fresh.
Playing for gold medal IS a pretty big deal.
Just being a member of the national team is a dream for many who played and play the game. But to find yourself in the gold-medal game at a prestigious tournament like the 2023 WBSC U18 Pan-American tournament? What a great experience it will be for these young men.
As they get out of bed this morning, Saturday, September 9, 2023, that’s exactly where these young men – boys, if you will, find themselves. They, and the coaching staff have put in the work, and prepared themselves for this moment.
A week ago, these young men arrived in Sincelejo, Colombia, to a city that many could not pronounce, in a foreign country with the language that most did not speak. They have come together as a team, with a purpose and a goal. They have succeeded in reaching the gold-medal game.
The boys are, quite literally, playing for gold.
Dream big, boys. Dream big.
 Jorge Paulo Lemann
5pm CDT (6pm EDT, 3pm PDT) – Gold Medal Game (1st vs. 2nd Place) USA vs. Venezuela