Canada rolls along as Nick Rohla enjoys his gum
By Mark Rogoff
The Little League Baseball World Series annually
provides a collection of cool and heartwarming
stories to fans of America’s Pastime. It also
offers some of the more unusual stories to these
same fans. Eleven- and 12-year-old kids who are
representing their country or region are easy
catalysts for these often odd anecdotes.
As of Monday, August 22, 2005, we now just might
be able to say we’ve seen it all.
You see, Canada’s Nick Rohla loves chewing gum.
He is also very superstitious. When you put the
two together, you guessed it, he chews the same
piece of gum day after day after day. If it
ain’t broke don’t fix right, right?
The tale of this love affair between Nick and
his gum begins on his Whalley All-Stars’ plane
ride to Toronto for the Canada championship
tournament. It was Wednesday, August 3, just one
day after an Air France jet crashed upon landing
at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
“I was just chewing this gum, and our plane
didn’t crash when we landed in Toronto, so it
was lucky,” Nick said.
The gum stayed in his mouth from then on – from
when he woke up in the morning until he went to
sleep at night.
The Canada championships began three days later,
and the representatives from British Columbia
claimed a 7-0 win in the tourney opener vs. Nova
Scotia. They then won 9-0 against Timmins,
Ontario and 8-6 vs. Regina, Saskatchewan.
All-Stars went on to win three more, including
the title game against Toronto High Park Little
League. There was a loss during pool play, a 4-1
setback at the hands of the same Toronto tots.
A hairy situation
Think this gum story is strange? Try
this one on for size: Nick Rohla and a
handful of his teammates were sporting
really long hair going into the
provincial championships in Canada. The
league president said it had to go
before the tournament got underway.
What happened to that hair?
“We cut it off and we kept it,” Nick
said. “It’s in a bag now. It’s in our
baseball bags now.”
But nonetheless, the gum was working, and Nick
had no intentions of its disposal.
“So yeah, we ended up winning that tournament,”
Nick said. “And we came here, and our plane
didn’t crash again so it makes it more lucky.”
Well, that luck was running out once Nick and
his teammates arrived at the Creighton J. Hale
International Grove on the Little League
complex. Perhaps it was the change of scenery
and the unfamiliar surroundings.
At Canada’s first supper in the decorated halls
of the café, Nick mistakenly left his gum on his
dinner tray and disposed of it without thinking
to put it in its rightful place.
“We arrived here Monday and I lost it Monday
night,” he said. “It was devastating. I tried to
find it, but I couldn’t. I looked in the
Some may say it was a blessing in disguise.
“By the time we left to come here it was
basically brown,” Nick said. “I think it was
rotting. I think I had a rotted piece of food in
there, but I’m not sure.”
Nick started chewing on a new piece of gum, and
has added to it – first a purple piece, then a
green piece. This collection of stickiness has
stuck for a while now. He’s still chewing this
piece all day every day, and the luck carried on
through Canada’s first pool play game, which it
won 2-0 over Mexico Saturday.
The Whalley All-Stars did lose their second
round-robin game, dropping a 5-0 decision to
Guam Sunday, but they sit in decent shape to
advance to single-elimination play. A win vs.
Russia on Tuesday would in all likelihood get
them out of pool play.
Regardless of the outcome, Nick has a lasting
treasure he can cherish for the rest of his
“I’m going to frame it,” he said. “That would be
Nick also said his World Series gum will not be
added to the baseball-sized gumball he has at
home in Surrey. That one sits on his bedpost
collecting dust. And, no, he does not still chew
on that bundle of sugar.
What do Nick’s teammates think of him?
“I don’t know what they think (of me),” he said.
“They’re crazy. They probably think I’m crazy.”
Teammate and best friend Richard Lankmayr chimed
in on his thoughts.
“He’s just a little bit of a freak,” he said.
“I’m a freak, too, and two freaks attract and
we’re best friends. It’s perfect.”
Richard also got in on the act when he started
chewing a piece of gum that he received just
before the rescheduled Opening Ceremonies
Sunday. He said he is going to try and keep it
like his best bud, but has no plans of adding on
Manager Glenn Morache says Richard’s “freak”
label is a little much.
“No, I wouldn’t classify them as freaks,” he
said. “Everybody has their little superstitions.
It’s just one thing that they do. They’re just
great kids. They have all been fun, and we let
them have fun.”
Fun is the name of the game at the tournament.
After all, when fun can stem from chewing gum of
all things, you know all is well in the rolling
hills of north-central Pennsylvania.
If you’re Nick’s dentist back home in Surrey,
don’t worry, he says he’s brushing his teeth
every morning and every night.
© 2005, Little League Baseball
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