Local Little League team honored for summer baseball


The Bonney Lake-Sumner 12-and-under Little League stars pose with officers from the Bonney Lake Police Department.


Over the past two months, Jess Workman has taken trips to Southern California and the East Coast while playing one of his favorite sports: baseball.

But the pleasure came with conditions. During these trips, the little league manager and special education teacher at Bonney Lake High School took on the responsibility of caring for 14 tweens around the clock; devise strategies to beat some of the best youth baseball teams in the country; and resist the emotions of invigorating victories and devastating losses.

In late August, when those duties ended and Workman returned to his east Pierce County home, he had a clear plan for the three free days he had before beginning preparations for the 2022 school year. -23:

“We literally sat at home,” he said. “I went for a few walks, trying to get back to normal.”

It was a change of pace from the previous month on the road; As Bonney Lake-Sumner’s 12-and-under little league won its tournaments, it continued to qualify for the bigger ones until it earned a berth in the Little League World Series. The wins made the team the most successful little league team in Pierce County history, but it took the players and their families away from their lives.

Workman loved the experience, citing it as one of his favorite sports experiences. He was also relieved that it was over.

“To be honest, it feels good,” Workman said. “[Only] Worry for a 12 year old.

There was, however, one final responsibility. The manager, other coaches and all the stars were invited to attend the Tunes @ Tapps event at Allan Yorke Park to be honored by their communities.

“Aren’t they so cool?” Sumner Mayor Kathy Hayden asked a crowd of cheering BLS supporters as the team stood in front of her. “I’m so proud of them…they’ve been winners for getting there.”

Bonney Lake-Sumner 12-and-under Little League stars pose with their coaches and local politicians on the Tunes @ Tapps concert stage. The players received awards for being the first Pierce County team to qualify for the Little League World Series earlier this summer. Allen Siegler asiegler@thenewstribune.com

Hayden was among many notable East Pierce County residents who honored the boys that night. Weightlifter Melanie Roach compared her Olympic journey in Beijing in 2008 to the boys’ trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, though unable to attend the event, delivered a message about how the boys represented South Sound.

Bonney Lake Mayor Michael McCullough pointed to the team’s final play of the tournament, in which a BLS player went back and forth between second and third base until he was finally eliminated, as a symbol of the team’s resilience.

“Each of you deserves recognition for your efforts in this area,” McCullough told the crowd.

Speakers stressed that fans shouldn’t dwell too much on the team’s last game, a quick elimination from the tournament. Instead, they suggested focusing on making it to Williamsport.

In a phone call with the newspaper a few days after BLS played its last game, Workman said the players were clearly disappointed. But on Wednesday night, the boys appeared to have taken the speakers’ advice to heart.

“It was great to play in front of all the fans because we’ve never played in such a big crowd,” pitcher Brody Santman said.

Ezra Seitz, 12, signs a baseball in his Northwest uniform. Seitz was part of the Bonney Lake-Sumner 12-U All-Star Team that competed in the Little League World Series. Allen Siegler asiegler@thenewstribune.com

The time away from the team also allowed the coaches to think about new perspectives. At the event, they focused less on game plans and more on the overall experiences of the kids.

“They had to grow a little bit,” bench coach Tucker Baker said. “There were difficult times. But as a group, I think they all did a good job. And it transcends baseball, it’s bigger than that.

After a summer of adrenaline and excitement, it can be hard for the boys’ upcoming experiences to match the excitement of the World Series. The players unanimously agreed that they were in no rush to return to school.

But, for outfielder Fisher Seibert, there’s at least one reason to be excited about the future.

“I can not wait to see [each other] coming soon to MLB,” the 12-year-old said. “Maybe [in] seven years.”

Allen Siegler is the education and breaking news reporter for The News Tribune. He first joined the Newsroom as an intern in June 2022. Siegler is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill Masters in Public Health program and previously interned at the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email him at asiegler@thenewstribune.com

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