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updated: 8/11/2011 7:56 AM

Lake Villa Defenders team head to Cooperstown

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  • Lake Villa Defenders baseball team heading to Cooperstown to play in a national baseball tournament.

    Lake Villa Defenders baseball team heading to Cooperstown to play in a national baseball tournament.

By Tom Jones
Lake Villa Defenders submission

The Lake Villa Defenders have been selected to play in the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational Tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park.

In addition to competing against teams from across the country, members of the Lake Villa Defenders will be enshrined in the prestigious American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Tournament of Champions, which takes place during the week of Aug. 20, offers more than 1,200 championship teams the opportunity to participate in the Cooperstown Dreams Park premier youth baseball tournaments, the National American Tournament of Champions and the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown Classic.

Teams from across the country will compete for a Tournament of Champions true 12 and under National Title.

Cooperstown Dreams Park has 22 professionally groomed and lighted fields, on 150 acres and features baseball diamonds with grass infields enclosed by 8-foot-high stadium walls.

The Defenders will spend seven days in the Baseball Village clubhouses and eat meals in the team dining pavilion.

Each team is guaranteed at least seven games and will earn a seed to play in the single-elimination championship tournament.

"This will be an awesome experience for our players and their families," said Gary Mang, the team's manager. "This cultural and life-enriching experience for the team and family members will create memories that will last a lifetime."

Players and coaches will visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame, share hometown stories, trade pins and compete with players from around the United States for a national title.

"We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our sponsors, as this trip would not have been possible without their generous support," said coach Tom Jones. "We have solicited financial support for the team for the past year. For not the wonderful and kind donations, our players and their families would not have had this opportunity to create memories of a lifetime."

Team Members from the Lake Villa Defenders are Garrett Mang, Davin Gleason, Ryan Kelley, Matt Mason, Joe Kendzierski, Nicholas Karris, Tommy Jones, Sonny Mentone, Ricky Allen, CJ Wiechert, and Ben Kusiak.

To see a full list of the team's sponsors,, and to follow the progress of the Lake Villa Defenders, visit