Little League champ reflects on visit to White House

Destrehan’s Reece Roussel with President Donald Trump at the White House.

It was a little over two months ago that Louisiana Eastbank captured the nation’s attention and the hearts of this state’s baseball fans as the squad cruised to the Little League World Championship. Among the team’s leaders was Reece Roussel of Destrehan.

Recently, Roussel and his teammates enjoyed one of the major spoils shared among the country’s world champion team athletes: the chance to visit the White House and to meet the President of the United States.

Roussel said the experience was rather surreal and made the weight of his team’s World Series accomplishment really sink in.

“When we won, we were happy but we didn’t really know what a big deal it was in the moment. Being invited to the White House showed us that people felt like it was a major thing,” Roussel said. “As soon as I stepped (into the White House) I felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s no way I’m really here right now.’”

The White House itself made quite the impression on the St. Charles Borromeo student.

“It was beautiful. I’d seen it before but never gone into it … it’s really amazing,” he said.

Of course, among the peak highlights was the chance he and his teammates had to meet President Donald Trump himself.

“Going into the Oval Office was almost a bit overwhelming … we saw the (Little League champion softball players) shaking his hand and meeting with him before we went in and it was like, ‘No way, it can’t be him,’ Roussel said. “We walked in and I think everyone was a little scared at first, but excited at the same time.

“You’re getting to shake Donald Trump’s hand, the President’s hand. I don’t think I have words to describe how awesome meeting him was.”

One of the other perks of the trip: the players got to fly aboard the famed Air Force One, the President’s Boeing 747 aircraft.

“It was the smoothest ride ever,” Roussel said. “You didn’t even realize you’d landed or parked … it wasn’t like any other plane I’d been on before. It’s such a big honor.”

Eastbank had actually lost its first World Series contest against Hawaii, making for elimination games the rest of the way. But the River Ridge-based team did its best work with its back against the wall—in fact becoming the first team ever to win the U.S. National Championship or the World Series after losing its opening game.

“As soon as I stepped (into the White House) I felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s no way I’m really here right now.” — Reece Roussel

The team bested teams from Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey and Virginia to set up a rematch with Hawaii. Eastbank won that one 9-5 to seal up the U.S. crown and advance to face Curacao to settle a world championship, which it captured by an 8-0 score.

Roussel emerged as one of the tournament’s breakout stars—and perhaps its biggest. His 17 hits set a new event record. He went 17 for 23, finishing the LLWS with a batting average of .739 with seven doubles, a triple and a grand slam home run.

It’s added up to Roussel being named one of the five finalists for Sports Illustrated Kids’ Sportskid of the Year. The winner will be named later this month.

It also added up to a pretty memorable trip to Washington D.C.

“There’s no way I’ll ever forget about this,” he said.

Reece visits the White House

  • Reece Roussel batted .739 and set the Little League World Series record for hits, going 17 for 23 with seven doubles, a triple and a Grand Slam home run.
  • He and his Eastbank teammates lost the first game in a double-elimination format before winning out at the World Series, culminating in an 8-0 victory at Curacao.
  • Roussel has been named one of five finalists for Sports Illustrated’s “Sportskid of the Year” award.

 

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