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Happy Holidays – What Little League® Means to Me

Volume 2 | Issue 12 | December 2014 | Archive
Happy Holidays – What Little League® Means to Me
The holidays are all about family, friends, and community, and so is Little League. To everyone in the Little League family, we wish you a festive and safe holiday season! It’s the time of year when the focus is on giving, so it’s the perfect opportunity to thank our million-plus volunteers for giving their time to help children throughout the world build life-long memories. In The Parent Connection, we are constantly asking parents, grandparents, and guardians to share examples of how Little League has positively impacted their families. We felt it was time for some of us to weigh in as well. Below, we invite you to read some touching personal stories from staffers on how Little League, at the local level, has provided inspiration, hope, joy, and some laughs.

Stefanie Steele
Merchandise Specialist
Little League and baseball has been such an important part of my family. My parents were both actively involved in the local program, as were my brother and myself. Although my brother was the athlete in the family, I was happily dragged to nearly all of his baseball games. After years spent at the ballpark, I became friends with many of the other sisters, who also happened to be at their brothers’ games. More importantly, my father was so proud of his Little League team and the friends that he met and players he watched grow into young men—my brother included. My father passed away unexpectedly this year and nearly a third of those who attended his services were those friends he made in the Little League program nearly 15 years ago. It’s amazing to see how a program started in our own home community of Williamsport has impacted my family and my life in nearly every facet; from working in the concession stand, attempting softball, keeping score, playing pickle in the yard, to being a proud Little League employee.

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Don Soucy
Eastern Regional Director
My mother never missed any of my Little League games, ever. My father never missed a game either, except for one. He had an important Kiwanis meeting that he had to attend. It was my last game of the season as a 12-year-old. I never hit a home run in Little league, except for that night, a grand slam against the former Connecticut District 5 Administrator Bob Watson’s team.

Fast forward 30 years when my son, Ryan, played Little League. His mother, Linda, never missed a game, ever. I never missed a game, except for one. Ryan had never hit a home run in Little League, except for his last Little League game, which was a grand slam, and I was attending an important Kiwanis meeting. Go figure.

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Sergio Guzman
Southwestern Regional Director
As the only child of a lawyer, expressing one’s opinion on different aspects of life is very interesting in my family. Baseball and Little League has been, and will remain, to be the common ground for my father and I to talk about, to truly share, and learn from each other.

It is true that Little League instills values on and off the field. My father has been able to embrace Little League as the perfect educational tool to share life lessons that one would think should be basic in life, but instead must be constantly reminded of to properly learn. Some of the stages that I can clearly identify with us growing older together are me as a Little League baseball player, he and I as coaches, me as an Assistant District Administrator in his district, us traveling to the Little League Baseball World Series from our home in Mexico, him teaching me the ropes when I became a District Administrator, and finally, when I was named Regional Director at the end of 2013.

“You now have a formal privilege to serve,” he said to me in one of his most recent lessons about my purpose in Little League. We owe what and where we are to our volunteers and families that take their children to the local leagues, and to our passion and purpose in life to make a difference.

It is complicated to sum up in a few lines what Little League Baseball means to me and my father. But I can certainly affirm that it has become a universe where I have found the necessary humility to embrace the teachings of a great man whom only wants for his son to be a good human being. We just needed to find that strategic venue to understand each other and strengthen our team. Thank you, Little League.

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Melissa Shaffer
Payroll Specialist
My twin sister and I grew up playing softball. We started as nine-year-olds playing in some of the very first seasons of Little League Softball® for Old Lycoming Little League here in Williamsport. We continued to play all the way through Big League Softball, with our parents supporting us and traveling with us all the way. In 1984 and 1985, our team from Williamsport won the Big League Softball World Series in Indianapolis, we were a part of Opening Ceremonies at the 1985 Little League Baseball World Series, and a ball that we turned a triple play with was on display in the museum. Our team lived by the motto PSD: Pride, Spirit, and Dedication. My sister and I were so competitive back during our Little League Softball days, but we are very close now, and have wonderful memories from our days playing Little League Softball together.

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Janetta Dudek
Merchandise Department
My son, Sean was my baseball player. He loved the game and made the all-star team in his last year as a Major Division player. He was a great little shortstop. During one game, he all of a sudden was waving his arms for the umpire’s attention. I was a little concerned because Sean never tried to draw attention to himself, he was very reserved. The umpire called time and Sean ran off the field toward me in the bleachers. I must have had a very worried look on my face, when he reached through the chain link fence and handed me….his first year molar! “Don’t worry, Mom, my tooth just fell out!” And he ran back on to the field and continued the game.

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Chris Downs
Director of Publicity
I was the manager at the Minor Division with players 8 to 12 years old. Among those players my first year was Hunter, a short, hefty kid who had a father that wasn’t around much. Shy and reserved, his mother, Katie, mentioned that Hunter liked baseball, but he wasn’t sure about playing because he didn’t run well and was afraid of the ball. But Hunter and the rest of the team bought into what the coaches were teaching, and we had a fine season, finishing second in our league.

I managed the Lions for five seasons and for three of those years, Hunter was on my team. He swung the bat hard, and when he connected the ball zinged off his bat. But too often for Hunter’s liking, the big swing was followed by the thud of the ball into the catcher’s glove. Still Hunter went out there time and again, and he slowly started to improve. Almost as important, he let me coach him. Eventually, he turned into a solid first baseman, who also saw innings behind the plate and at third base.

When I was selected to manage our league’s minor division all-star team, I talked to Hunter’s mom and told her that Hunter is ready and could really help our team. She agreed, and he ended up having a great all-star season – one of three he’d have.

Following the last game of Hunter’s 10-year-old all-star season, he came up to me. To my surprise, Hunter gave me a wooden bat. On the barrel of the bat, Hunter had his mom write me a message that read, “Coach: You are the reason I am still playing baseball! Thank you for being such an awesome coach and always being there for me!”

All I could do in that moment was get on a knee and give him a hug. Teary-eyed, and choked up by the gesture, I blubbered a barely-audible “thank you.”

Today, I still see him often. He is a freshman in high school and has grown into a fine young man with unlimited potential. On the night he gave me that bat, I can assure you that other than the birth of my two sons, I consider that moment the most honest and pure one of my entire life.
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The Parent Connection - December 2014 - Archive