NY baseball tournament requiring COVID-19 vaccines for players 12 and up

Parents say it costs $4,000 to cancel the Cooperstown Dreams Park Baseball Tournament.
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Youth baseball families and coaches are crying foul, frustrated by a new requirement for a nationwide tournament that all players ages 12 and up receive a COVID-19 vaccine -- even though they aren't even eligible yet.

The Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament brings in teams from all around the country, and many parents have already put money towards their child's team having a spot.

But now, some teams are dropping out, including several from New Jersey.

"Once that happened and everyone started reading about it -- all heck broke loose," mother Lori Angermeir said.

Lori Angermeir's 12-year-old son James, plays for a South Brunswick baseball team. They've decided not to go to Dreams Park in Cooperstown this year, because of the new requirement.

"More than half of our team were against having our kids vaccinated to play in a baseball tournament," Angermeir said. "We've already found another tournament to go to -- we're going to Ohio!"

"All participants, coaches and campers 12 years and older must be immunized," the organization said in its opening plan. "Immunization requirements: COVID-19 (campers under 12 years of age are exempt, but must provide a negative test upon arrival), diphtheria, haemophilus influenza type b, hepatitis b, measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, tetanus and varicella a/k/a chickenpox. Cooperstown Dreams Park is hopeful that the vaccines will be available a minimum of 21 days prior to any registration date. Cooperstown Dreams Park will, if necessary, modify registration date by registration date until a vaccine is available for 12-year-olds and older."

Registered visiting family members 12 years and older would also be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to gain entry, while visitors 11 years and younger must provide proof of a negative test result upon arrival.

Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in those 16 and up, though the company has applied for FDA approval for those 12 and older.

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One team from Pennsylvania has been fundraising for the past two years to enter the tournament.

"We've been practicing so hard," 12-year-old Steven Kaminsky said. "We just can't wait for it, and we've been talking about it for a long time. It's like a dream."

He and his teammates said they were incredibly disappointed when the tournament suddenly released the new requirements.

"To me, it's crazy that they didn't just settle for negative tests," parent Brandon McLean said.

Steven's mother, Amy Kaminsky, said the total cost of the tournament is $20,000.

"I'm angry," she said. "I'm disappointed. I'm really disappointed in the people that run this tournament."

She said by canceling, the team had to forfeit $4,000, all of which was fundraised by the kids.

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If they don't cancel and can't get vaccinated in time, they'll lose the full $20,000.

"My husband sent an email," she said. "We've called a couple times. We haven't gotten really any great responses back. We did get one generic email saying to reach out to your team contact, who happens to be my husband, for clarification. It's hard to get through."

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