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Little League, Big Reunion

Three college baseball players are teammates again a decade after competing in the Little League World Series

Ask three University of West Florida baseball players about their favorite baseball memories, and you might hear something about the summer of 2005. That was the year Lee Dunnam, Kyle Hamner and Michael Tomlinson donned baby blue uniforms and represented their hometown of Maitland, Florida, on the biggest stage in youth baseball: the Little League World Series.

In the years after their preteen success, the three maintained their friendships despite heated high school rivalries and early college paths that pulled them from central Florida. Tomlinson was the first to enroll at West Florida, followed a year later by the younger Hamner. This fall, Dunnam transferred from the University of South Carolina Upstate and Tomlinson returned from a redshirt season. Now the trio are once again on the same team, playing for another taste of glory.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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Lee Dunnam

POSITION: Outfielder

MAJOR: Building construction

WORLD SERIES HIGHLIGHT: “The state championship in Florida was harder to get out of than the regional tournament. We played Coral Springs (Florida), and once we got past them we realized, ‘Wow, we can really do this.’ The World Series was probably the best baseball experience I’ve had yet to date.”

Kyle Hamner

POSITION: Catcher

MAJOR: Sports management

WORLD SERIES HIGHLIGHT: “During one of our first games, I was catching and there was a man on third, and our pitcher threw the ball off the backstop. I got the ball, and we were able to get the kid out at home. There was a momentum change in the game. We made that play, and we did really well after that.”

Michael Tomlinson

POSITION: Third baseman

MAJOR: Building construction

WORLD SERIES HIGHLIGHT: For Tomlinson, the games in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, exposed him to new cultures. All the teams lived in two-story dorms, and the Florida boys hung out with Hawaiians, who shared a bathroom with a Russian team. “I was really close with the Japanese guys,” he added.