Georgia Little Leaguer’s Show of Sportsmanship Earns Him the Good Sport of the Year Award
It is not often that a 10-year-old provides an example for kids and adults. On an evening earlier this spring, Braeden Swilley, a catcher for the White Sox in the East Marietta (Ga.) Little League, showed everyone at the game what sportsmanship and compassion are.
For his exhibition of the core values of Little League, Braeden has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Little League Good Sport of the Year. Braeden, along with his family, 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.
The Good Sport Award, part of the Little League Baseball and Softball awards program sponsored by Chartis, 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.
Braeden’s story started like many others, on a Little League field, as the White Sox were playing a team from the neighboring community of Smyrna, Ga. It quickly became something that everyone in attendance would remember.
Early in the game, one of the opposing batters hit a pitch down the right field baseline, resulting in a triple. As he was leaving the batter’s box, he accidently tossed his bat backwards hitting Braeden, who was the catcher at the time, square in the facemask. His mask did its job, but Braeden was temporarily dazed.
At the conclusion of the play, the umpires gathered to discuss the rules, deciding the batter did not toss the bat intentionally.
Although Braeden’s coach asked if he wanted to take a breather and sit down for a while, he insisted that he assume his position behind the plate.
Much to the confusion of Braeden’s coaches and everyone in attendance that night, just before assuming his catching position, he walked toward the Smyrna dugout.
In his nomination of Braeden for the Good Sport Award, his coach, Mike Beltrami, completes the story in his own words. “The opposition player came from the back of the dugout to meet Braeden. Braeden told the player he wasn’t hurt and that he knew it was an accident; no hard feelings. They touched gloves and Braeden headed back to his position. As he walked back to the plate, the fans from both teams, the coaches, the umpires and all the players applauded.”
Mr. Beltrami concluded his nomination by saying, “This is not a story about great pitching, batting or catching. It’s much more important than any of those things. It is a lesson that reminds all of us about what’s really important.”
This is not an action that is unusual for Braeden, who will be a fifth-grader at Eastside Christian School in Marietta this fall.
“Braeden has been mature beyond his years for his entire life,” his father, Smith Swilley, a Florida native, who is a sales representative, said. “He is a quiet leader on the team and gets a great deal of satisfaction from seeing others succeed.”
In part of Mr. Beltrami’s nomination he stated, “Braeden practices hard, plays hard, but more importantly he is respectful and is a great teammate.”
“I don’t think I did anything that any other player wouldn’t have,” Braeden, who also enjoys playing football and basketball, said. “I just wanted to let him know what happened is part of the game, that’s just baseball.”
Braeden credits his parents, father, Smith, and mother, Sweden, for his selfless attitude.
“The best part of Little League is being with my friends and the fellowship,” Braeden said. “I really like it when the team is successful because we all have played a part in that success.”
“Braeden’s actions are an example of what we hope every Little Leaguer learns from the game,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “He is a good and respectful person both on and off the field who puts others before himself. Being a good sport has little to do with talent and ability, and everything to do with character and attitude.”
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, N.Y.
- 2008-Kevin Trainor, Viera Suntree LL, Melbourne, Fla.
- 2009-Dieter Miller, Golden Hill LL, Fullerton, Calif.
- 2010-Cody McCoy, Saddleback LL, Lake Forest, Calif.
- 2011-Colton Bullard, Rye (N.H.) LL