Exchange program sends Little Leaguers to Taiwan

Not many 11- and 12-year-olds get the opportunity to travel abroad – let alone play baseball – in a foreign country. The Arcadia Little League All-Stars are breaking the norm and traveling to Taiwan as a part of a cultural exchange program, said Arcadia Little League president David Davis.

The trip to Taiwan is the second part of a baseball-themed exchange program between a team from Taiwan’s Tainan City, who visited the Valley last year, and two local Little League teams from Scottsdale and Chandler, said Davis.

The players will begin their weeklong journey Sept. 27 and will play five games in the 2015 Giant International Junior Baseball Championship with 40 other Taiwanese teams and one other U.S. team from Chandler, said Davis.

The Arcadia All-Star players were selected from 10 teams within the Arcadia Little League. The players who made the All-Star team were voted on by players and selected by coaches, Davis explained.

Jeff Wasson, the head coach of the team, is excited about the athletic experience the team is going to have while playing abroad.

“I am looking forward to see how the kids compete. I know we are going to have a great cultural experience, but I am most looking forward to seeing how the team stacks up to teams in other places,” said Wasson.

The Arcadia Little League team consists of 12 players and six coaches with every player traveling with at least one parent or coach, said Karie Dozer, a parent going to Taiwan with the team.

“They are going to learn so much more than they would in a classroom from this hands-on cultural experience,” said Dina Musselmann, a parent who is taking her whole family to Taiwan to watch her son, Justin, play.

The boys not only will have the opportunity to see Taiwanese landmarks and experience a new culture, but the team will be doing a two-night home stay with host families, stated Davis.

“I hope that they learn that they live in a very fortunate environment. I hope that they learn that they are ambassadors for our neighborhood, our city and for the state of Arizona,” said Davis.

Players said they are not only excited to play baseball in a foreign country, but are looking forward to experiencing a new culture.

“I am looking forward to sightseeing and the memories,” said All-Star player Mason Davis. “And comparing the way they play baseball to the way we play here.”

The boys are concentrating on playing baseball and hope to prove that they can hold their own on the international stage.

“I am looking forward to seeing their baseball and to show Taiwan that Americans are good at baseball,” said teammate Justin Musselmann.

Player Nate Holloran added that he has been preparing both mentally and physically to play his best in Taiwan.

The Arcadia Little League is very thankful for the communities support physically and financially, especially the support of  Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, said Davis.

“We had great support from both corporate and local sponsors through the City of Scottsdale,” said Davis. “We are super proud of these boys. It is a great group of kids. The boys play the game with sportsmanship. We couldn’t be prouder of them for that.”

The Arcadia Little League All-Stars are made up of selected players from 10 teams within the league.
The Arcadia Little League All-Stars are made up of selected players from 10 teams within the league.

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