The View from the Top: Winning a World Series Title from the League President’s Perspective
After the dust has settled and the last inning is played during tournament season in nine divisions of Little League® Baseball and Softball, one team wins the title of World Series Champion. For the winning Little Leaguers®, this is a memory they will cherish for a lifetime. But what is it like from the League President’s perspective?
Kevin Miltko, President of Garden City Softball Little League in Missoula, Mont., lovingly known as Zootown, shares his experience during his league’s Senior League Softball World Series Championship run.
“This league set historic records. It was a big deal for town Missoula as well as the entire state of Montana.”
For 50 years, Montana has had chartered Little League programs. Until 2015, not one of them had ever brought home a World Series win. Garden City made a second appearance at the Senior League Softball World Series in as many years and won the title of World Series Champion with a record of 6-0 at the tournament.
In 2014, the Garden City Softball Little League played in the Senior League Softball World Series in Lower Sussex, Del. Garden City went all the way to the championship game falling to the Central Region Champion. The Zootown girls returned home with World Series dreams in mind for 2015, but had no intention of letting their loss keep them down. For the following season, many members of the 2014 team worked together to create a Challenger Division in their league to give back to the community that supported them all the way to the World Series.
“It’s 12 months of meticulous planning and hard work.”
For the last 7 years, Garden City Softball Little League hosted the Regional Tournament at their home field.
According to Mr. Miltko, it takes 12 months of planning in order to be prepared for this event. During the tournament, it is a lot of 18 hour days keeping the fields neat and groomed, and providing the teams with hospitality, comfort, and a fun, memorable experience.
Garden City has an executive board comprised of 10 members and an arsenal of volunteers to pull off an event of this magnitude.
“Back in the day, it was my dream to go to the World Series!”
The community support for the Garden City girls was overwhelming. When the team made it to the regionals, more than 500 people came out to watch. After making it to the championship game, almost 1000 people filled the stadium to support the girls. Being at the field and cheering on the team was “an incredible feeling,” said Mr. Miltko.
While Little League covers the cost of travel expense for the team and coaches for all participants in our nine World Series events, Garden City needed to raise money in order to help fund the league’s trip to Delaware. Everyone in Missoula graciously supported the team. Some residents, former Little Leaguers themselves, were overjoyed at the thought of a team from Montana going to the World Series since as a kid it was their dream to go.
When their games were broadcast on television, every television in Montana had ESPN on. Locals were hooked, as they watched their hometown girls win the Senior League Softball World Series.
“If you could do all of those things, maybe every 50 years or so, you’ll get to hold the brass ring.”
Bringing home a World Series title is the dream for every local league across the country and the world.
“It took us 50 years to get here. So patience is definitely key,” said Mr. Miltko.
But everyone involved with Garden City Softball Little League knew it was about much more than the win.
“If the other kids in the league aren’t having fun, learning the game, and learning sportsmanship, then we’re not living up to Little League’s core values,” said Mr. Miltko. “Winning this championship was the icing on top of the cake that is an extraordinary league to be a part of.”
The Zootown girls’ successful tournament run was possible because of the league’s goal to provide a league where every player is succeeding, learning, and having fun, and from the hard work of the Garden City volunteers to engage the passionate, fun-loving community that gave the team the extra boost of support it needed to win it all.