Nationals Youth Baseball Academy basks in the glow of the World Series

October 25, 2019

WTOP/Kristi King

Washington Nationals fans are excited about the team’s World Series appearance, but the moment is especially poignant for youngsters with a unique connection to the team.

“I feel like it’s an honor because not everybody gets to be here,” said Akina Gates, 12, of attending the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

Gates takes the role of scholar and athlete at the academy very seriously; she said she “gets to represent the Nats.”

Jayla, a scholar and athlete the Washington Nationals Youth Academy, adds her hand print to the banner. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Sixth grader Mesiah Stewart, 11, said he is thinking about the responsibility of being potential World Champions.

“They represent America so I gotta, you know, represent them too,” Stewart said.

What does that mean?

“Show them some respect and be happy for them too. Because usually, some teams don’t even go to the World Series,” Stewart said.

The Academy’s Executive Director, Jennifer Cartland, said she is proud of the team.

“This is absolutely about proving what’s possible,” Cartland said. “They have demonstrated persistence, grit, energy, love for the game and love for one another and that’s exactly what we want scholar athletes at this academy to learn and understand.”

When the Nationals, fresh off their road trip, enter Nat’s Park on Friday, one of the first things they’ll see is a banner splashed with children’s hand prints spelling out: “Finish the Fight”

One of the hand prints belongs to Stewart.

“I want them to feel like they have some kids that really care,” he said.

Kala Anderson, 13, also dipped her hand in paint for the banner.

“I want them to the think about us, knowing that we’ve got their back no matter what, if they lose or not,” Anderson said.

The banner was created Thursday afternoon at the Academy in Southeast. It will be put on display to greet the arriving team members Friday morning.

“We want this banner to be a representation of our excitement and our support for the great work that they’ve done up to this point and the great work they’re going to do to finish the fight,” Cartland said.

“Go Nats!”

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