For Cole Daniels, 12, Little League® is so much more than playing baseball. Cole, a player at Montesano Little League on the Pacific Coast in Washington, is a leader at the Little League fields. With two younger brothers, he takes on the “big brother” role for not just his siblings, but for the entire league. For his display of Little League’s core values of Character, Courage, and Loyalty, Cole has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Little League Good Sport of the Year Award.
At Montesano Little League’s opening ceremonies, Cole showed that he is an extraordinary young man. A boy named Evan was set to throw out the first pitch. Naturally, anyone would be nervous to throw out the first pitch with the crowd’s attention on you; but Evan is more than 75 percent blind. As the time to pitch approached, Evan abegan to panic. Before taking the mound, Evan asked for a buddy to join him. That’s where Cole stepped up.
“I could see that he was getting nervous when the crowd started cheering for him, so I just took his hand and whispered in his ear that he was going to be okay and that he could do it,” said Cole. “I told him that he is going to do awesome and to just give it all he has and that I would stand up there with him.”
Montesano Little League president Steve Bove recalled speaking to Evan after the ceremonies and Evan claimed that throwing the first pitch was “the best thing he’s ever done, and that Cole is awesome and his favorite player.”
Helping out Evan is just a small example of the good sportsmanship Cole displays. Often described as a “hero” by the younger kids of the league, Cole doesn’t take the recognition lightly.
“I think it is an honor, but also a responsibility,” said Cole. “It’s important how you act on and off the field. Kids notice. Parents notice. Teammates notices. Having good attitude is important. Sometimes kids can be more of an influence than even coaches, so I feel it is my job to be a role model to the younger kids in Little League if I can. I had a kid ask me if he could wear my number next year; that was pretty awesome.”
Cole has been described as an all-star both on and off the field.
“He puts out 100 percent effort on every play and does it with a smile,” said Mr. Bove. “Win or lose, he is the first in line to shake hands and congratulate his opponents. [Off the field] Cole is always willing to help, whether it is in the score booth or picking up garbage in the stands.”
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 do not consider the child’s playing ability or statistics. 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.
“Cole’s willingness to help other players and the respect he shows for both his peers and elders are great examples of what we hope every Little Leaguer learns from the game,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Cole proves that good sportsmanship is not about your talent or ability, but rather your attitude and love of the game.”
Cole will be recognized at a breakfast and during on-field ceremony at the 2014 Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. The 68th World Series will be played Aug. 14-24. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday, August 24 at 3 p.m.
“His dream was to make it to Williamsport,” said Kellie and Corey Daniels, Cole’s parents. “And we couldn’t be more proud of the way he got there.”
If you know of a deserving Little Leaguer, the 2015 Little League Good Sport of the Year Award application will be available in early 2015 at LittleLeague.org.