Connor Kurki, a seventh-grader at Iola-Scandinavia Middle School, participated in the Cooperstown Dreams Park National Invitational Baseball Tournament in Cooperstown, New York, in August.
“It was amazing experience all week long,” he said. “It was fun playing against kids from all over the state.”
The 12-year-old son of Darin and Joy Kurki, Iola, was selected to play for the Greg Reinhard Baseball Academy Rays last fall.
“GRB is a travel program based out of Madison,” GRB Academy owner Greg Reinhard said. “Our player reach is throughout Wisconsin. We have travel teams from 9U-18U.
“We also do this specialty 12U team which competes at Cooperstown,” he said. “In the past three years, GRB has sent more than 80 players to college baseball, including over 45 scholarship players.”
The academy’s mission is to provide young players the opportunity to grow and develop their skills while competing against top competition, utilizing the best coaching available to ensure correct fundamentals and skill sets, according to Reinhard.
The goal is to help players become successful players in high school and the higher ranks of baseball.
“Connor is a very talented young player with an upside for the future in the game of baseball,” Reinhard said. “He was a big part of our Cooperstown team.”
Kurki was able to try out many different positions, according to Joy Kurki.
“Connor was able to play shortstop, pitcher, second base and right field throughout the week,” she said. “His team played six games in pool play and went 3-3. After pool play, Connor’s team was ranked 49th out of the 104 teams.”
Kurki was able to bring home several souvenirs from his time in Cooperstown, including the ball from his home run.
“I was hoping all week long to hit one,” he said. “It felt great.”
Players that competed in the tournament were also inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It means a lot to me,” Kurki said. “I was one of the few Wisconsin players that played in Cooperstown and get inducted.”
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him,” Joy said.