Needville Little League sent home from regional tournament over COVID case

Mycah Hatfield Image
Saturday, August 7, 2021
Needville Little League sent home from tournament over COVID case
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It's unclear if a player or a staff member contracted the virus, but the team says the decision to have them forfeit their chance has "destroyed" them.

NEEDVILLE, Texas (KTRK) -- The Needville Little League team is missing their shot at a championship over a COVID-19 case, officials say.

According to a post published on the team's Facebook page on Friday, Needville has been sent home from the Southwest Regional tournament after a member tested positive for the virus.

Mike Park, an assistant coach, said he was informed on Friday by Little League International that he tested positive for the virus. When the team was informed they were no longer eligible, Park said players and coaches broke out in tears.

"They have destroyed the emotions and hearts of all the players, coaches, parents and fans," read the Facebook post.

Since receiving the news, Park said he has taken two other tests for the virus, not associated with the tournament, and both came back negative. He said he is not experiencing any symptoms either.

For the two weeks leading up to the start of the tournament in Waco, Parks said they tested players and coaches daily for COVID.

Now, he and the league's president, Charlie Swanson, are fighting to get their team reinstated.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Troy Nehls took to Facebook saying, "There's no reason these boys shouldn't be allowed to play. They're not sick and their one coach tested negative after what appears to be a false positive."

He said he has been in touch with Attorney General Ken Paxton and has reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott on the issue.

The Needville Little League was one of three teams removed from the tournament Friday because of positive COVID tests, according to a statement from Little League International.

ABC13 asked the organization if they intended to reinstate Needville Little League. The organization issued the following statement, which was posted to its website:

"Little League International has been informed of at least one positive COVID-19 test within multiple teams participating in the Little League Baseball Southwest Region Tournament. The teams impacted are the Mississippi State Champion, Oklahoma State Champion, and Texas-East State Champion.

In consultation with its medical advisors, Little League International has notified the teams that they will no longer be able to participate in the tournament. The team members and their families have been informed of all appropriate health measures to help ensure all individuals are cared for, and that appropriate isolation and quarantine efforts are being followed.

First and foremost, Little League International wishes all those impacted a full and healthy recovery. Game 5 of the Southwest Region Tournament, originally scheduled between New Mexico and Mississippi for Friday, August 6 at 4 p.m. (central) has been declared a forfeit, with New Mexico advancing."

Needville beat Arkansas 13-0 on Thursday.

They were set to move on and play against Louisiana champions from Lafayette. Louisiana will now advance due to the forfeit.

According to the Little League International's website, if a player or a volunteer in a league is diagnosed with COVID, or if they come in close contact with someone who has the virus, including someone who lives in their home, the league said "it's best practice for that player to stay home, as directed by a medical professional."

The video above is from a July 27 ABC13 report on the status of vaccine trials for children. Hit play to learn more.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.