Judy Watts Selected as 2012 Little League Mom of the Year
The bond between a mother and her children can be something that is impossible to break. After a recent, possible life-changing situation in the lives of Judy and Cameron Watts, that bond has become even stronger.
Ms. Watts, 56, a volunteer in the Laguna Hills (Calif.) Little League (LHLL), was diagnosed with a cancerous cyst in Aug. 2010, and faced months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments along with surgery for a double mastectomy. Cameron, only 10 years old at the time, was told by the doctors, "We're going to cure your mom. We need you to be there for her and help her through this."
Cameron, now 12 and a recent selection to the league all-star team, reminded his mom to eat even though her cancer treatments had affected her appetite. He took on the responsibility of feeding and caring for their collection of rescue animals, six cats and three dogs. Cameron, who will be entering the seventh grade in the fall at Los Alisos Intermediate School, provided the inspiration and whatever was needed to guide his mom back to good health.
"During her cancer treatments, I was her rock," Cameron, who has played Little League Baseball since he was five years old, said. "But, she kept herself going for me. She has always been there for me, no matter the situation."
This story has the best possible outcome. Ms. Watts was declared to be cancer free in February after her first post-surgery MRI exam.
Having won one of the biggest fights she will probably ever face, beating Stage 3 breast cancer, Ms. Watts has returned to her busy schedule of balancing her work as a teacher at Hillview High School in Tustin, Calif., an alternative high school for students in grade 9-12 where she has worked since 1997, her volunteer work for the Laguna Hills Little League, working as a Little League umpire while mentoring other umpires, and the demands of being a single mom.
Her first connection with Little League came in East Moline, Ill., as the daughter of long-time manager Harry "Bud" White. She tagged along with her brothers and dad to games and served as everything from bat girl for the team to scorekeeper.
After earning her undergraduate degree from Illinois State and a master's degree from Western Illinois, Ms. Watts was a professional staff member for U.S. Senator Paul Simon in Washington, D.C.
She moved to California in 1996, and shortly thereafter renewed her Little League connection after Cameron was born in 2000. Ms. Watts is currently on the board of the Laguna Hills Little League, a position she has held for five years, and serves as the Director of Umpire Development. In previous years, she has served as the Tee Ball Commissioner and as a Player Agent, while supporting Cameron every step of the way in several different capacities for his teams, including coach.
"Judy is well-known as an outstanding volunteer," Kimberly Schremp, President of LHLL, said. "Given her many responsibilities and commitments, she goes out of her way to volunteer a huge amount of hours both to our local league and the district. Judy is an inspiration to many, and we are lucky to have such a fine parent, volunteer and example for the Laguna Hills Little League."
In 2006, Ms. Watts, a self-proclaimed "baseball nut," decided to become an umpire. She has worked as many at 65 games during the summer season, and in 2009 received the Ironman Award from District 55 as the umpire who worked the most tournament games, a total of 44. In addition to umpiring for the district, she also serves as the Safety Officer for the district.
"I'm completely speechless, which doesn't happen to me very often," Ms. Watts said. "I know of so many moms in my own league alone who deserve this honor, let alone in the thousands of leagues around the world. It still blows me away that this is happening. I'm honored, humbled, and thrilled."
For the many sacrifices Ms. Watts makes for her son and the countless volunteer hours she spends working for the Laguna Hills Little League and District 55 in California, she has been selected as Little League Baseball and Softball's 2012 Mom of the Year.
On May 14, Judy served as the Honorary Bat Girl for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as part of Major League Baseball’s program to recognize baseball fans who have battled cancer. As the Angels guest for the game, Judy threw out the “first pitch” and watched the game from the club-level suites. Judy is pictured with Angels third base coach Dino Ebel. (Photo courtesy of Angels Baseball)
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.
"Ms. Watts 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 son, Cameron, 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 Ms. Watts with this special award."
Ms. Watts will be recognized at a breakfast and during an on-field ceremony at the 2012 Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. The 66th World Series will be played Aug. 16-26.
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.
- 2011- Karen Smith, Fountain Valley (Calif.) LL