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Fil-Am Little League champion Lennon Salazar gets keys to El Salvador

Steve Angeles | TFC News El Segundo

Posted at Sep 13 2023 05:34 PM

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Just outside of the Los Angeles International Airport is the city of El Segundo.

For the past two weeks, the beach town has been riding high from its team's win in the Little League World Series.

El Segundo recently threw a parade along its downtown with Filipinos joining the victory celebration.

"We are the most important five square miles in the world of little league baseball," said El Segundo Mayor Drew Boyles. "You all made that happen."

Filipino residents there are beaming with extra pride as the roster of 12-year-old stars include Filipino-American right fielder, Lennon Salazar.

"It’s definitely been crazy knowing a bunch of people are out here congratulating us and supporting us," said Salazar. "It feels really good knowing that my heritage and the Philippines were behind me and supporting me through wherever I went."

Salazar's mother's side of the family hails from Lipa City in Batangas province.

He has been on the baseball diamond since he could remember, and has always had his family by his side.

"That was definitely a group effort," said Christibelle Villena, Salazar's mother. "His dad was very athletic and watching his older brother his whole life has just really helped him."

She added: "One of my favorite parts is when Lennon shows that you don’t have to be the tallest kid. You don’t have to be the biggest kid to go this far and achieve something great."

The El Segundo Little League was formed in 2021, with its members then as 10-year-olds. The team has since improved each year, eventually advancing to the Little League World Series in Willamsport, Pennsylvania.

"Our mission wasn’t to win one, our mission was to win the whole thing," said the team's manager, Danny Boehle. "If you notice, we didn’t celebrate hard after we each won. We won sectionals. We had a great time. That wasn’t our mission, our mission was to win the World Series and that’s what we did and it was very special."

Salazar said he now looks forward to playing in more advanced leagues and in school, all while taking up football.

Another possibility for him is to play for the Philippines' national team, which his family is very open to, and where he already has friends who are part of that pool.

"I like being a multi-sport athlete," said Salazar. "It helps me push myself to play more sports and to be more athletic and push myself to be better."