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Chicago-area Little League teams cancel Cooperstown baseball tournament trip due to COVID vaccine requirement

CHICAGO (WLS) – Little League teams across the country are pulling out of a popular summer tradition amid concerns with the COVID-19 vaccine.

A tournament in Cooperstown, New York requires all athletes 12 and older to be vaccinated.

Even with the new vaccination rules approved this week, it puts athletes and their parents in a difficult position.

ABC7 spoke with a local team who had to cancel their trip and take a big financial hit.

The Chicago Highlanders perform exercises at Horner Park, northwest of the city.

The 12-and-under team continue to train for the remainder of their season, although what was to be the highlight – a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York – is now canceled.

“It’s a really big disappointment,” said baseball dad Matt Poisson. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We planned it years in advance and it fell apart at the last minute for us.”

The team had to cancel the trip as Cooperstown informed them that all players over the age of 12 needed to be vaccinated before being allowed to play. A negative COVID test would not be enough.

This was even before the announcement of the vaccine’s availability for 12-year-olds starting this week.

“It’s a decision parents weren’t ready to make. It’s weird to ask a parent during a time like this,” said coach Jeremy Munoz.

So, after consulting the parents, coach Munoz decided to withdraw from the tournament. The trip was to cost about $ 1,800, which they had already paid for.

It was a large sum of money for a downtown team to try to collect.

“We’ve been fundraising for 3-4 years,” said parent Ben Wong.

Cooperstown refunded most of the money to the team but retained the $ 4,000 deposit.

Although the parents are unhappy with this, they are even more disappointed that the children will miss the trip.

“It’s an experience you can’t create anywhere else,” Poisson said. “[We’ve been] waiting for years. “

The Highlanders will try to make up for not participating in the Cooperstown trip by using the rest of the money they raised to play a tournament in Florida. In the meantime, a number of other local teams have also had to cancel their trips to Cooperstown and most are also scrambling to find alternatives.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our report previously stated that the trip was to play in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The National Baseball Halll of Fame located in Cooperstown, NY is not associated or connected with the tournament.

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