COVINGTON - The 5-and-6-year-old Newton County All-Stars learned the hard way that not everyone likes winners after being kicked out of the Best of the Rest Tournament at Hunter Park in Douglas County on Saturday.
After Newton won the previous two games by large margins, Ricky Tanner, coach of the Bill Arp All-Stars, Newton's next opponent, asked for birth certificates - something not required nor requested when the team registered to play.
"I don't think they sent rules to anybody. I know our people and they know we're really strict about it," Newton County Recreation Department athletic supervisor Ricky Vaughn said. "If they had sent a piece of paper saying they needed birth certificates, they would've called me and we would've got them. If he (coach Scott Standard) had been told to bring a roster or birth certificates, he would have had them.
"(Our coaches) typed up a roster with names and birthdates on their own and tried to give it to someone in charge, but they were told, 'put it back in your pocket, we don't need it.' My understanding is that the team they were ready to play had been griping about it all day. They were saying our kids were 9-year-olds, and their coach had been talking about it all day."
According to Vaughn, he got a call from someone at Hunter Park at 6 p.m. Saturday asking if he could supply the birth certificates. Vaughn told the caller who could fax them in 30 to 45 minutes.
"I could tell they were surprised," Vaughn said. "He put the phone down and I could hear him talk in the background. When he came back, he said 'I have to do what I have to do.' I don't know what else they were expecting when they called. I think they were expecting somebody here to say there's nothing they could do."
Vaughn thinks that the situation came about because of the Newton County team's success in its first two tournament games.
"From my understanding, the tournament was so weak we had no business being there. Our 5-and 6-(year-old) teams are coach pitched. These kids were hitting it off a tee," he said. "I feel like they could have made a better effort to rectify the situation other than kicking them out of the tournament. Probably in their own mind, they saw how good our kids were and they thought they were older.
"If they were going to ask for birth certificates or rosters, it should have been done before the tournament started - none of that was done."
Even though birth certificates are not checked in tournaments sponsored by Newton County Recreation Department, Vaughn makes sure that every coach has them in case a problem arises.
"I told the parents that these traveling tournaments are put on for the people to make money. Dixie Youth has its problems and it's not perfect, but money making is not one of their goals," Vaughn said. "They are as good as anyone I've ever seen as far as keeping records of kids playing. These traveling tournaments could care less, they're there to make a dollar."
Tanner could not be reached for comment.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.