It's probably the only time 12 Chandler boys have welcomed homework.
As the Chandler National Little League team practices for Saturday's Little League World Series, they're finding the best remedy for nerves is a dose of American history, math and Spanish.
“I've got butterflies in my stomach,” said 11-year-old Michael Benjamin, a sixth-grader at Hull Elementary School. “Homework helps me to get them out of my system.”
On Thursday, Michael was finishing baseball practice in Williamsport, Pa., when back home in Chandler, his mother, Karen Benjamin, experienced a few nervous moments of her own. News reports were blaring headlines and images from the massive blackout in the Northeast and Midwest.
But her husband, coach Mike Benjamin, said the team was fine. It also looked like Chandler parents flying to Pennsylvania on Thursday night would not have problems because of the power outage.
The parents were heading to the World Series armed with high hopes — and homework.
“All the kids have homework, and they're doing at least an hour of homework a day,” Karen Benjamin said.
The players' parents have been contacting teachers and principals for work their sons can do so they don't fall too far behind. The boys had gone to school only one or two days when they left for the regional final game in California. When they return from Pennsylvania, they will have missed about a month of school.
All 12 attend schools in the Chandler Unified School District. Spokesman Terry Locke said principals and teachers are doing what they can to accommodate the students.
“This is one of those lifetime experiences that is a learning experience in and of itself,” Locke said. “So we're happy for these kids.”
Six of the players are seventh-graders at Bogle Junior High School. Principal Sharon Kenyon said they will be treated as if they are new enrollees when they return to school.
“We'll pick it up from there. We're not grading them now and we won't hold them accountable for missing homework,” Kenyon said. “I have a feeling they're very bright young men and they'll catch on quickly.”
Twelve-year-old Trever Benjamin — Michael's cousin and teammate — is trying to balance baseball with social studies. The seventh-grader at Andersen Junior High School has been doing a lot of reading about American history this week.
But like Michael, Trever said he doesn't mind too much.
“Some days, it just helps to focus my mind on school, just to get my mind off baseball to get a break,” he said.
Still, baseball is never far from these players' minds, whether they are dividing fractions or writing an essay. Kathy Fowler said her 12-year-old son Timothy, a seventh-grader at Bogle, wrote in his class journal about the World Series experience.
“He wrote: ‘The whole world will be watching if we make a mistake,’ ” she said.
When they take the field on Saturday, homework will be the last thing on these players' minds.
“They're having a lot of fun, but they have their game faces on,” Karen Benjamin said. “They're there to play baseball.”