Lewis and Clark Middle School rallies behind Little Leaguers

2011-08-26T18:00:00Z 2011-08-26T22:43:53Z Lewis and Clark Middle School rallies behind Little LeaguersBy ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
August 26, 2011 6:00 pm  • 

When Jeanann Lemelin left the state earlier this year to play in a regional softball championship, the question she was asked most often was whether she rode a horse to school.

Lemelin, an eighth-grader at Lewis and Clark Middle School, just laughed. As she's texted her friends on the Big Sky All-stars Little League team now playing for the national championship at the World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., she said the boys have told her they've been getting the same question.

"Seriously," she said.

"Montana's kind of a stereotyped state because no one ever comes here," said friend and classmate David Holmes.

The horse questions, of course, don't really matter. The team keeps winning, so they've been able to prove that "Montana can do things," Lemelin said.

Eight of the boys on the team are Lewis and Clark students. The ones who aren't will be next year, with the sole exception of one student who attends St. Francis Catholic Middle School.

The mood at Lewis and Clark since school started Wednesday has been electric.

"Teachers are talking, everyone's talking," friend and classmate Skeff Thomas said.

"People who don't even like baseball or follow baseball are into it," friend and classmate Kyle Eaton said.

Staff and students at the school are making banners that they'll hang when the boys get back next week and teachers are decorating their lockers.

The four friends -- Eaton, Thomas, Holmes and Lemelin -- joke about the treatment the team is already receiving at the series. They've got trailers and new equipment and some have done interviews on ESPN.

Still, no one seems all that worried that the special treatment and attention will go to their heads.

"They're pretty normal kids," Holmes said. "They're pretty down to earth."

Some of the students have watched the games at Petro Theatre on the Montana State University Billings campus. Others gather at friends' homes to watch. Lemelin watches by herself.

She said it was a superstition thing. If she starts watching the games now with friends, they might lose.

"It's so weird seeing them on TV," she said. "I yell at them like I do at their games."

Lewis and Clark Principal Steve Pomroy has been enjoying the team's run. But, he said, he and the teachers also are focused on the students' eventual return to school.

"What the (World Series) means for us is they're not here," he said. "And some of them (the incoming seventh-graders) have never been here. They'll be playing catch-up a little bit."

Still, he said, it'll be fun. On top of the banners and the locker decorations, the school will hold a welcome-back ice cream social honoring the team at the end of next week.

"I'm worried it might take them a while to come down," Pomroy said, smiling.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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