we just came off of our first tournament with alex's team. coach got a couple of kids from another team because our kids couldn't all make it. it was too bad, because our team is great...undefeated and won their division for our baseball club. the tournament was in a small town about 30 min. away. just far enough to feel like you really went somewhere, but close enough to go home for the night! it was a very backyard tourney. the 8u games were played at the local middle school, which had the weirdest setup i've ever seen! at each field, there was a dugout on ONE side, with nowhere for parents to sit but in the outfield, then on the other side, no dugout and lots of seating including bleachers. so, if you didn't want to sit with the other team's fans, you had to sit in a weird place. i sat in the dugout when we had that side, since i keep score and couldn't be far away in the outfield. the fields were veerrrrrry dusty and they did not water them down so we ate dust all day long. they used pitching machines run by generators, and they were very inconsistent. the kids also played with hardballs for the first time! our boys did really well. even with a few pickup players that they didn't know. they won their first game against a select team (at 8!) and lost the second game 17-16....they played their butts off! losing was very hard for our boys-since they went all season without a loss. it was actually good for them, though...they have to learn to lose gracefully! the second day, they played the first place team from the other division (the teams were split into 2) and were sluggish and just not enthused from the get-go. they lost 11-1. the second game, we got them fired up by offering money and m&m's, plus they got to play and have fun between games so that woke them up. they played sooo well against the same team that they lost to the first day. let me stop a second and explain the umpire situation. if parents pay for a tournament, they should get their moneys' worth-which means real, certified umps. this one was umped by the tournament director and his kid who was about 15. it was absolutely ridiculous. coaches from both sides on every game were questioning the calls because the umps were not following their own rules. they were having to make calls against their OWN players because the umps were not making any calls. when the kid umped our game, he was on his cell phone part of the time! he was also allowing the other coach to dial up the machine speed when his team batted, so the hits would go further. it was a joke. we lost our last game because there is a 'slide to avoid' rule (if the runner is coming in, and the catcher is in their way and there may be contact, the runner slides) and our runner didn't slide...even though there was NO CONTACT!!! the ump called him safe, which would have been the tying run, then reversed his call when the other coach complained. why not stick with your original call and let the kids just play it out?! we got robbed. our kids knew it, and we told them that as far as we were concerned, it was a tie and they did not lose that game. we got 2nd place out of 11 teams, so they did great!!! i was worried about alex being tired after two games each day but he immediately asked when we can do it again! that boy loves to play ball.