'Boys are excited either way': Nolensville Little League World Series team undaunted after crowds curtailed

Paul Skrbina
Nashville Tennessean

Having fans at the Little League World Series would be cool, Kelly Weaver said.

But the mother of Nolensville player Hutch Weaver is convinced that her son and his teammates still will absorb everything that comes with playing in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, beginning next week.

Little League announced Friday that because of the rise in COVID-19 cases related to the delta variant that it will not distribute 3,000 tickets each day to the general public. Each team will receive 250 passes for family and friends to attend.

The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out Little League's marquee event last year.

This year participation is limited to teams only from the United States, meaning no international teams will compete. The tournament is scheduled to begin Thursday and run through Aug. 29.

Nolensville's first game is Thursday (2 p.m., ESPN) against the runner-up in the Great Lakes region. 

The Nolensville Little League team is headed to the Little League World Series

LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES:Nolan Brown, Vanderbilt pitching coach's son, leads Tennessee team to Williamsport

"We've never been there, so we don't know what it's like," Kelly Weaver said. "At regionals it was the same way, so that's what we were expecting for this. The boys are excited either way."

That fact was emphasized during a recent phone conversation between mother and son  – and proven by mom's hoarse voice.

"He says, 'Y'all gotta be louder in the stands,' " Kelly said. "I said 'I can't be any louder.' "

Except she was wrong.

"I encouraged all the parents; we all got louder. Obviously having a crowd full of people would make it a more fun experience, but I don't think it's going to change their mindset."

Weaver said she was surprised when she heard of the possibility of the World Series being open to the general public.

"It would be nice to have a full stadium," she said. "Is it going to change anything? No, I don't think so."

Nolensville secured its spot with a victory Tuesday against Georgia in Southeast Region play and clinched the regional title a day later by defeating Florida.

Little League said it was "disappointed" it had to limit fans, but that the decision was made in the best interests of all involved.

"The health and well-being of our teams and mitigating their exposure to COVID-19 must continue to be our main priority," Little League president and CEO Stephen D. Keener said. "With updated guidance from the CDC, and in consultation with our Pandemic Response Advisory Commission and medical advisors, we feel it's essential to revert our attendance policy to unfortunately limit the spectators in Williamsport to family and friends of our 16 participating teams and our highest-level volunteers and supporters."

Reach Paul Skrbina at pskrbina@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.