The 2015 Little League Awards program recipients were honored during the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Since the first Little League® game was played in 1939, millions of adults have embraced the ideals and values of Little League by welcoming the program into their communities, enrolling their children to play, and volunteering in support of their efforts on and off the field.
“Little League volunteers are the lifeblood of the Little League program and give freely of their time without expecting even a ‘thank you’,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Leading by example, and doing so with the only reward being the smiles on the faces of the children speaks to the spirit of volunteerism.”
Each year, the Little League Baseball and Softball Awards Program invites its local leagues to nominate individual volunteers who have had a profound impact on their league and community through the Little League experience. The recipients of these awards are honored at Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and recognized during the ESPN broadcast.
We celebrate and salute the millions of past and present Little League volunteers. And here are some thoughts on volunteering from our Little League Awards Program honorees.
Being a Volunteer Means …
“Every single game is special, and it doesn’t matter where it is played or who is playing. That big, bright smile on their face ... Just seeing that smile tells you that they know they’ve accomplished something that they never thought they could.”
- Joni Fichter, 2014 Little League Challenger Division Award recipient
“The best part of what I do, and the only thing I would want in return for my time, is to see the faces of those children on game day. The ability to give them the opportunity to play, and to see the enjoyment that brings, is what keeps me motivated.”
- Thomas Taycher, 2011 Little League Challenger Division Award recipient
“A combination of reasons led me to become involved in Little League. The main reason was because my family always taught us to give back, and initially, I thought Little League would be a great way to do that. Once I was involved, it was the total volunteer atmosphere of the organization that has kept me interested for all these years.”
- Fred Lervers, 2011 Little League Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“We wanted to show families that it’s a good place for the kids to play. Our volunteers are proactive. We didn’t sit around and just ask the city to do it for us. Although it’s a public park, our volunteers pull the weeds, mow the grass, and take care of the fields.”
- Ray Bernal, 2014 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“It taught my kids in an experiential way what it means to serve others and to sacrifice some of our time by volunteering it to Little League.”
- Elizabeth (Betsy) Wilson, 2014 Little League Mom of the Year Award recipient
“I was a senior in high school, and my girlfriend took me to a Little League game. Her father was looking for an umpire, and I played baseball, so I said I would do it. Forty-nine years later, I’m married to Linda, and I’ve been a volunteer ever since. I’m in it for the kids, not to make a name for myself.”
- Dave Mantlo, 2013 Little League Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“From language barriers to financial obstacles, there is a lot that goes into organizing a Little League in an urban setting. But these kids are passionate about the game. We need to continue to develop these programs and do it right.”
- Bob McCarney, 2013 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award Recipient
Bob McCarney (left) is presented the 2013 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award from Demiko Ervin.
“I love what I do, and have a lot of fun seeing the kids play and grow.”
- James Beckum, 2015 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“My mentality for volunteering is simple: Do what’s good for the kids and the community.”
- Michael Shutler, 2009 Little League Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“This has been a group effort. My wife and I have always stressed the idea of education first and playing sports second. Our league is interested in grooming good people, and not trying to train professional baseball players.”
- Gaither and Rebecca Beard, 2006 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“There are so many volunteers who make Little League the organization that it is, and to single me out is probably not fair. I am proud to represent every volunteer around the world. We all, as a group, help make things work.”
- Mike Messick, 2010 Little League Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“No matter at what level, or how much time a person puts in, being a volunteer means being involved and helping out. The little things that volunteers do, add up to the whole of providing a great league for the kids.”
- Michael Smith, 2008 Little League Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“I wanted the players to learn the mechanics and strategy of playing baseball and at the same time, have fun.”
- John Murtin, 2015 Little League Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“Little League played a major role in my life as a child, and I wanted to bring those same opportunities to other children. Little League is a proven method of teaching children lessons they can use the rest of their life.”
- Kerry Cobb, 2011 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award recipient
“Little League is an entirely volunteer-run organization, that takes the support of a lot of people to run smoothly. I’m happy that I have been able to be a part of that for our community.”
- Michele Manahan, 2015 Little League Mom of the Year Award recipient