- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Whether the players are Little Leaguers or Major Leaguers, earning a spot on an All-Star team has a way of turning past enemies into future friends.

That has proven true with the Canyon Lake Little League All-Stars, who first came together as a team well over a month ago.

Many of the players have come from being opponents who played on competing teams during the regular season, to now becoming comrades playing in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

But the World Series experience has brought another benefit that culminated Monday when Canyon Lake beat the Czech Republic 5-3 in a consolation game - a connection to other cultures.

But the ties between the Canyon Lake All-Stars developed first.

Some liken the bonding that occurs during three weeks on the road to a brotherhood.

“They now have bonded as a team; they will always have this friendship,” Canyon Lake coach Rich Hegre told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1kOyenF ). “Whether they don’t see each other in school or if they do, they will always have a friendship. It’s more like a brotherhood; we’ve been on the road for three weeks. They get crabby at each other, but it is like they are family now. That, in itself, will live far beyond memories.”

Player Dylan Richey said guys have gotten closer during the tournament, which has led to a pair of defeats and title elimination and culminated with Monday’s consolation game.

It’s not like they previously disliked each other. Richey talks about the fact that many of the players played against one another throughout the years, including this season. Then, they were trying to beat each other.

“Now we are friends,” Richey said. “It’s for one league, one city.”

The team got to know itself in a hurry as it prepared for the South Dakota/North Dakota District Tournament.

Two-a-day practices got them kick-started in the right direction, and it led to a run that was supported locally and televised nationally.

“As a team, we got to know each other really fast and it has helped us out on the field,” third baseman/pitcher Blake Weaver said.

But while on the road for the last three weeks, like most siblings, the players didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things.

“We’re more like brothers than friends,” shortstop/pitcher Matthew Hegre said. “We get into arguments, but we always get out of them. It’s just the way it goes, I guess.”

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