The Gaston County Shooters cannot wait to compete in the World Games. For this team, victory is more meaningful than ever.
The team wants to win the Gold for their pitcher, Bobby Hyde Junior. Hyde's mother died this spring, but he keeps her memory alive on the field.
Pitching at the World Games will be bittersweet for Hyde. "It's been real hard because she's been sitting in the stands at all my games since I've been playing little league," he says.
"It's strange looking in the stands and she's not there," Hyde says. "But I just look up at the sky and know that she's up there and with me still." On the field, Bobby's teammates and coach keep him going.
Pulling together is what this team does best. They are a unified team, which means half of them have a mental disability and half do not. On the field, it is hard to tell who's who.
Player Jason Minton says the diversity taught him a lesson. "It taught me I'm not as good as I thought I was," he says. "Some of these guys are a lot better than me."
For the Gaston Shooters, the reward of victory will be more than a gold medal; it will also be the chance to ease the pain of a teammate they love, and to show the world what people of differing abilities can do together.
"They feel so proud to represent their community, their state, and most of all, the United States of America," coach Glenn Burgess says.
You can cheer on the Gaston Shooters when they play at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex in Raleigh.
Mark your calendar because you won't want to miss the World Games. They run from June 26 to July 4. Look for complete coverage on WRAL-TV5, the official television station of the World Games.