Update: This story has been updated with additional details about the new universal field.

A recently formed youth baseball team representing the West University Place area is heading to the Perfect Game Baseball Association's World Series this summer after winning several tournaments over the past year and rapidly rising through the ranks. Meanwhile, coaches and parents involved with the team are working to build a new universal field on land located off Buffalo Speedway.

The backstory

The West U Blue Anchors were founded in spring 2022 after founder, coach and manager Robert Whitman said he noticed a number of players from area Little League teams were looking to keep playing after the season ended and seeking a higher level of competition.

The 13-player team was formed and joined the Perfect Game Baseball Association, which Whitman said is a Select League, separate from Little League. One key difference between the two is that select leagues run year-round, he said.

The team got its name after Whitman said he and his wife decided to sell their beach house in Galveston, a decision that was made as a sign of commitment to the amount of time they would spend running the team, leaving less time for trips to the beach.

"We embrace it," he said. "This means we’re all in."

What happened

The Blue Anchors started in the AA division before being promoted to the more competitive AAA this fall. As the team continued to win tournaments, they were promoted to Majors, earning an invitation to the 2024 National World Series, Perfect Game's equivalent of the Little League World Series.

Digging in

Players on the team are 8-9 years old, though three total Blue Anchor teams exist for different age ranges. Whitman said the league allows players to practice more efficiently and play in competitive tournaments while also keeping the community feel of Little League. The goal, Whitman said, is to continue teaching life lessons to youth through sports while developing their skills and competing at a high level.

"We still are able to keep this kind of family-friendly Little League feel," said Whitman, who has three sons, including an 8-year-old who plays on the Blue Anchors. "Winning is not a priority, but it’s a byproduct after you work hard and understand that you have to keep working hard."

The Blue Anchor coaches are all fathers of players on the team, Whitman said, adding that they all have experience with college sports.

"It's not your traditional dad's team," he said.

The details

The invite-only World Series games will kick off June 21 and take place at the East Cobb Complex and surrounding facilities in Marietta, Georgia. Pool games will take place through June 23 before the playoffs begin June 24. Games will be broadcast live at www.perfectgame.tv.

Another local team, the Houston Wildcatters, won the championship in 2023. Other past winners from the last few years have come from Florida and Georgia.

What else

Whitman said some of the families involved with the team are in the process of building a universal youth baseball field along Buffalo Speedway near Loop 610 and NRG Stadium. As a universal field, it will be open to all teams, not just Little League teams, he said.

Although there are many facilities and fields in the outskirts of Houston—such as in Tomball and Rosenberg, where land is cheaper—Whitman said not many options exist for players in the Inner Loop unless they are part of the Little League system.

"For these kids and our families, we were driving an hour every Saturday, playing two games and driving an hour back," Whitman said. "We love it, we enjoy it, but it's taxing."

The group has purchased the land for the field and hopes to have it ready for play in the summer, Whitman said. The full field will feature fences that go back 215 feet to the left and right, and 250 feet to the center, which will allow it to cater to teams almost up to the high school level year-round, including softball teams, Whitman said.

Whether it will be made with grass or turf is still to be determined, he said. Ten teams have already rented the field for games in the fall.

"We want to include everyone," he said. "If you're a dad with a kid with a team and need a field, we’re here for you."

The new field and athlete institute will be located on the 12800 block of Buffalo Speedway, just west of Wildcat Golf Club, Whitman said. In addition to the outdoor field, it will feature indoor batting cages and a training center available to all teams.