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Lacey youth baseball team cancels Cooperstown trip over vaccine requirement

Players from a youth baseball team in Lacey had to cancel their trip to Cooperstown because the tournament is requiring vaccines for all the kids, despite it not being approved by the FDA. (Photo courtesy of the team)

A 12-U youth baseball team from Lacey has been forced to cancel its trip to Cooperstown, New York, to play in a tournament after receiving a letter that says COVID-19 vaccinations are required to attend. But a vaccine for anyone under age 16 has not yet been approved for use in the United States.

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Tasha, a mom of one of the players, explained what’s happening on KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.

“When the boys were about nine, [their coach] Lyle [Overbay] just said, Hey, there’s this amazing opportunity down in Cooperstown, which is at the Baseball Hall of Fame, for the boys, when they’re 12, to go down there for a week,” she said. “It just sounds like an amazing experience, play for a week and you get to do training and skills, and of course the Hall of Fame is there so they get to go see that.”

“We were really excited. It seemed so far away back then. And then this year, as it was getting closer, we made arrangements, everybody got their houses, and their airline tickets, and cars. And then we just just got a letter from them on Saturday, I believe, from the Cooperstown Program, that just said the only way that you can continue to play as if all 12-year-olds are vaccinated.”

Tasha said their immediate reaction was confusion as there’s been no COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA for use in kids, or for anyone under age 16.

“At the same time, I just have always been really hesitant to get my son vaccinated for COVID because he is a Type 1 diabetic, and there have been no juveniles in part of any of their pretrial studies,” she said. “So Cooperstown or not, vaccination for him, turning 12 just recently, wasn’t something that we were even considering.”

In addition to being confused, Tasha says the team and families were disappointed and angry.

“We were really mad because it just feels like they’re just setting us up for failure when you can’t get a 12-year-old vaccinated right now,” she said.

“I was disappointed and like, because they have to make us get a vaccine to even play, and I was just mad and disappointed,” said Tasha’s son Beckett, who plays on the team.

He says even if it meant going to Cooperstown, he’s not sure he wants to get the vaccine at this point.

“His body just doesn’t break things down like it should,” Tasha said. “… He’s always got flu vaccinated, we’re not anti vax people. We’ve always done what the pediatricians have told us. I think just for us — and everybody has their own opinion — but for us, it’s just so new and it happened so quickly that I’m not comfortable with maybe long-term side effects that we don’t know about.”

She says her opinion might change overtime, but that’s where it stands for now.

“I certainly understand if it would have said you just need to have a negative COVID test,” Tasha added. “We’ve seen that happen everywhere we’ve gone this year and I think that would have been a great compromise. It’s something that would have kept people safe and maybe feel more comfortable bringing in people from out of town. So I guess I don’t understand why it was such a drastic jump to the vaccination, as opposed to we need to see a negative COVID test.”

According to the Cooperstown Dreams Park website, ” Cooperstown Dreams Park will, if necessary modify registration date by registration date until a vaccine is available for 12 year olds and older.”

For the tournament, Tasha says their team has thankfully been able to be refunded for most of it, though they did lose deposit fees. Tasha also said her family was planning to rent a house while in Cooperstown, and when they canceled and asked for a refund, the woman who owns the house said the news caught them off guard.

“She said that they’re devastated. Their community … had no idea, they were completely blindsided with this. And she said we’ve lost now two summers and this is like 80% of our income, is this Cooperstown tournament that goes on our entire summer,” Tasha said. “And so it’s devastating for their community. It’s a small, quaint, traditional community and this is their livelihood.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

A previous version of this report falsely stated that the team was part of Little League. This team is not associated with Little League International.


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