Karen Smith Selected as 2011 Little League Mom of the Year
Karen Smith is just one of several million moms around the world, but she may be the epitome of the Little League mom.
The balancing act Mrs. Smith performs every day would make most people take a second to think, “there has to be a better way.” But, she approaches each day with a renewed vigor doing everything she can for her husband, Phil, two children, Parker, 12, and Braeden, 9, and others.
For the many sacrifices Mrs. Smith makes for her family and the countless volunteer hours she spends working for the Fountain Valley (Calif.) Little League, she has been selected as Little League Baseball and Softball’s 2011 Mom of the Year.
The Little League Mom of the Year Award was established in 1991 as a symbolic form of recognition and tribute to the millions of mothers in communities around the world who contribute their time to the Little League program.
“Mrs. Smith is an example of a mom who is able to balance the demands of her work and a family, while also finding additional time for the local Little League,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “In addition to being an enthusiastic supporter of her family, she has shown she is an impactful role model for other parents and children in her local league. She is the type of person that makes Little League the best youth sports organization in the world. Little League Baseball and Softball is pleased to honor Mrs. Smith with this special award.”
When ask to list the contributions Mrs. Smith makes to the Fountain Valley Little League and her family, her husband replied, “She does everything. It is easier for me to list the things she doesn’t do. That list is a lot shorter.”
Her husband would know. Aside from his family connection, Mr. Smith is in his third year as the President of the local league and has been a volunteer with the league for nine years.
Mrs. Smith holds down two jobs: she is a hair dresser and also works with her sister at their graphics arts supply company. In addition to her numerous family duties, she serves as the Player Agent for the local league and shares the duties of coordinating and stocking the snack bar with a another mom. The league has hosted a number of postseason tournaments recently, which has extended the season for the snack bar for an additional month. There have not been many days off, along with a few 12- to 14-hour days.
“It’s part of our daily life,” Mrs. Smith said. “You get into a routine and don’t think much about it. I’m sure there are many people in a similar situation.”
Her duties as the Player Agent are many, including organizing sign-ups, conducting tryouts and the draft, forming the lower division teams and coordinating the selection of the all-star teams. Mrs. Smith also has been a member of the league’s Board for the last four years, and served as the Secretary for one season. She has been involved in the league for eight years.
Karen Smith, the 2011 Little League Mom of the Year, is pictured with her children, Parker (in the Boston Red Sox hat) and Braeden.
The one thing that many people who know Mrs. Smith came back to was her joyful spirit that leads many of the children in the local league to think of her as “mom.”
“She not only ensures that her children are provided a safe and fun environment, she ensures that all 301 Little Leaguers in our league are provided the same opportunity and privilege,” Amy Dechene, Secretary of the Fountain Valley Little League, said in her nomination letter. “She always makes sure each child is OK, having fun and is not in need of anything. She truly embodies what we all strive to be.”
Mrs. Smith’s children also appreciate all the things she does for them.
“It seems like my mom is always busy,” Parker said. “She is always doing something for the league and when she is not doing that she is supporting my brother and me at our games or getting us to practice.”
With winter baseball right around the corner, there is no chance to take a break on the horizon. But, Mrs. Smith is looking forward to coming to the World Series to accept her award.
“I am excited to make the trip out to the World Series for many reasons, but one reason is it will be a chance for me to take a small break,” Mrs. Smith said. “I am looking forward to sitting down and watching the games. I am very appreciative to the Little League organization for the honor.”
Mrs. Smith will be recognized at a breakfast and during on-field ceremony at the 2011 Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. The 65th World Series will be played Aug. 18-28.
Past Recipients of the Little League Mom of the Year Award
1991-Lisa Parker, Anderson (W. Va.) LL
1992-Monique Evans, Riverside (Calif.) LL
1993-Theresa Wiseman, Louisville (Ky.) LL
1994-Donna Dahlen, Hanover (Pa.) LL
1995-Dee Brankley, Onancock (Va.) LL
1996-Julie Erskine, Storm Lake (Iowa) LL
1997-Melissa Teeples, American LL, Sparta, Tenn.
1998-Sherry Boyd, North LL, Palatine, Ill.
1999-Sheelah Elliott, North Clark LL, Yacolt, Wash.
2000-Brenda Hopper, Coventry (R.I.) LL
2001-Collette Nellis, Mexico (N.Y.) LL
2002-Susan DiPrinzio, Audubon (N.J.) LL
2003-Stacy Deibel, Poquoson (Va.) LL
2004-Debbie Esenwein, Columbiana (Ohio) Youth LL
2005-Alison Payne, York County LL, Yorktown, Va.
2006-Elaina Jurecki, American LL, San Ramon, Calif.
2007-Michelle Foglia, East Hampton LL, Montauk, N.Y.
2008-Abby Contini, Dover (Ohio) Baseball LL
2009-Chrissy Lisle, Apopka (Fla.) LL
2010-Tyler Prewitt, Eastern Little League, Lexington, Ky.