New Hampshire Little Leaguer Who Has Overcome Family Tragedy is Named Good Sport of the Year
Sometimes from the worst of tragedies comes something that takes some of the sting away. Colton Bullard, an 11-year-old Little Leaguer from Rye, N.H., is a shining example of that.
Colton’s father, Ashton, an ex-Marine, passed away from a brain aneurysm when Colton was six years old. At this young, formative age he had to adjust to a new environment moving from Florida to New Hampshire to live with Nancy Stone, Colton’s aunt, and Juli Bullard, his step-sister, who have co-guardianship of him.
“Colton had a lot of life experiences at a very early age,” Ms. Stone, who works for a mortgage company in nearby Portsmouth, N.H., said. “He has blossomed since coming to New Hampshire. He has adapted to his situation and made the most of it. In getting through everything that he has, Colton has shown a maturity beyond his age.
“I think because he was the ‘new kid on the block’, coupled with some of the things that have happened in his life, he has great empathy for others.”
A Rye (N.H.) Little League player since moving to the town, Colton has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Little League Good Sport of the Year Award. Colton, along with his family, will be recognized at a breakfast and during an on-field ceremony during the 2011 Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. The 65th World Series will be played Aug. 18-28.
The Good Sport Award annually recognizes a Little League player who has demonstrated superior qualities of sportsmanship, leadership, a commitment to teamwork and a desire to excel. The criteria for selecting the recipient does not consider the child’s playing ability or statistics. Hundreds of players worldwide are nominated for the award each year.
The award was established in 1989 to amplify the importance of Little League Baseball and Softball as a leadership training program, utilizing baseball and softball as a vehicle for instilling principles that can be used the rest of their lives.
Colton also has a consistent reminder to treasure every day. His step-brother, Chandler Bullard, 34, was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1993 automobile accident. He moved from California to New Hampshire to assist with raising Colton and has played an important role in Colton’s adjustment.
“All of my family has taught me discipline and expect me to do what is right,” Colton, who will be a sixth-grader at St. Patrick’s School in Portsmouth, said. “They have done a great job taking care of me and do a lot of things for me. They are the reason I am who I am.”
Mr. Bullard’s influence on Colton has spurred him to volunteer his time at the University of New Hampshire’s Northeast Passage, where Mr. Bullard is employed. The Northeast Passage is a nonprofit organization for athletes with disabilities. Colton is a familiar face to many of the athletes, spending most of his time helping with the various sports programs.
Colton, who occasionally pitched and was the catcher for the Cardinals in the recently-completed Little League season, will spend four weeks of his summer at the Roaring Brook Camp for Boys in Bradford, Vt., a camp that teaches survival skills. The campers live with no electricity or running water and are given instruction on such things as rock climbing, archery, swimming, kayaking and canoeing.
Colton has played a role in teaching some of the younger campers at Roaring Brook. After attending the camp for two weeks each of the last three years, he will spend an additional two weeks at the camp this summer to participate in a one week canoeing trip, something he has been looking forward to since coming to the camp.
But, baseball is his passion.
“Colton and Chandler are huge Boston Red Sox fans,” Ms. Stone said. “Every morning when Colton wakes up, the first thing he wants to know is the score of the Red Sox game.
“He is the first person to practice and the last to leave and it is tough to get him to take his uniform off,’ Mrs. Stone said. “Baseball is certainly a big part of his life, and it has also played a big role in shaping who he is.”
“Colton has proven to be an exemplary Little Leaguer because he puts others before himself,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Despite the things that have happened in his life, Colton is a good and respectful person both on and off the field. Being a good sport has little to do with talent and ability, and everything to do with character and attitude.”
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with more than 2.5 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.
Past Recipients of the Little League Good Sport Award
1991-Rondy Spardella, Aldine LL, Houston, Texas
1992-Scott Ford, Walla Walla (Wash.) LL
1993-Luis Rivera, Coatesville (Pa.) LL
1994-Joey Pitchford, Pinole (Calif.) LL
1995-Jose Aguire, Sunrise LL, Canoga Park, Calif
1996-Tracy Theriault, Sanford-Springvale LL, Sanford, Maine
1997-Greg Turner, Northern LL, San Angelo, Texas
1998-Madison McDaniel, York County LL, Yorktown, Va.
1999-Zachary Dwight, Sunrise LL, Woodland Hills, Calif.
2000-Caitlin Neeson, Southwestern Port St. Lucie (Fla.) LL
2001-Robert “Bobby” Malouin, Central Country (R.I.) LL
2002-Taylor Thompson, Amelia LL, Beaumont, Texas
2003-Brianna Dudley, Northwest LL, Butte, Mont.
2004-Aaron Willis, West Side LL, Santa Rosa, Calif.
2005-Dawson Fair, National LL, Elizabethtown, Tenn.
2006-Cory Bowman, Dubuque (Iowa) LL
2007-Riley MacKnight, Southside American LL, Syracuse, NY
2008-Kevin Trainor, Viera Suntree LL, Melbourne, Fla.
2009-Dieter Miller, Golden Hill LL, Fullerton, Calif.
2010-Cody McCoy, Saddleback LL, Lake Forest, Calif.