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Why Clear Ridge is our team

There’s a lot to like about the Clear Ridge Little League’s 2016 Senior League world champions.
But before we get to that, we urge everyone to remember these names:
Jake Gerloski
Tom Doyle
Julian Lopez
Gage Olszak
Zach Verta
Mel Morario
Tim Molloy
Bob Palenik
Paolo Zavala
Mike Rios
Jake Duerr
Noah Miller
Dave Navarro
Gary Donahue
Joe Trezek
Mike Skoraczewski,
Manager Mark Robinson
Coach Will Trezek
Coach Ray Verta
They battled their way into the history books, and they will have a place of honor there always.
OK, so here’s what’s best about this team: they truly are our team.
Why?
First, they are the face of the Southwest Side. Look at their last names and you’ll see a mixed bag. They look like a typical block in Clearing or Garfield RidgeÑand like their parents and grandparents, they know what it is to set aside ethnic differences, grab the same rope, pull in the same direction and achieve a goal.
Second, their work ethic mirrors what we find all across Southwest Side neighborhoods. These 16-year-olds have in their brains and brawn the same blue-collar “get it done” ways of their parents and grandparents. They’re strong, steady, hard working, persistent and dedicated to excellence. They are battle-tested when it comes to facing and overcoming adversity, as well as bouncing back from defeat, as they did when they faced a tough Burbank team weeks ago.
Third, like their parents and grandparents, they are not braggarts or showboats. That was wonderfully clear in their post-game press conference in Bangor, after they won the titleÑas well as their TV station appearances here in Chicago, earlier this week.
Simply put, the Clear Ridge players and coaches were just regular joesÑbut refreshingly so, in our opinion. No Dizzy Dean-style tall tales for news reporters. No Muhammad Ali-style putdowns of opponents. No Broadway Joe Namath-style predictions of future greatness.
No bursts of superlatives, colorful adjectives or curse words. Just a steady stream of aw-shucks modesty from a group of kids and their coaches from Southwest Side neighborhoods where actions always speaker louder than words, where folks roll their eyes at loudmouths, where a man is what a man does.
The same Southwest Side neighborhoods where the CRLL players were hailed as conquering heroes on Saturday afternoonÑbut within an hour or so they were back home, cutting the backyard grass, watering the lawn, picking up after the family dog, taking out the garbage and getting ready for church and then work on Sunday, as one team mom told us.
Speaking of team moms, theyÑand team dadsÑare among the unsung heroes in all this, supporting their sons in so many ways, large and small. But they’re OK with that. “We’re the strongest ones in all this, in some ways,” one mom told us. “But hey, this is what a mom does, what a dad does. We lead by example, quietly. It’s no big deal. Save your praise for the boys.”
And that’s why this team is our team. They are us.

This is just a fraction of the content that appears in this week’s print edition of the Southwest News-Herald. Want to get the all the news? Pick up the Southwest News-Herald on local newsstands for just 75 cents a copy. For greater savings and convenience, call (708) 496-0265 during weekday business hours and order a subscription by mail, delivered each week to your home or business.

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