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Whether in Hometown USA or Around the World, Kevin Ash Is Proud to Call Himself a Little League Graduate, Volunteer

Kevin Ash

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (March 15, 2006) – Even though he considered himself to be only an average Little Leaguer during his playing days, Kevin Ash admits those fond childhood memories on the baseball field opened his eyes to a world of possibilities that has forever tied him to the sporting life.

As Chief Administrative Officer for the Rose Bowl played annually in Pasadena, Calif., Mr. Ash, a native Californian and graduate of Lincoln Little League in Playa Del Rey, appreciates and relates to the international scope of Little League.

“Little League is a great organization,” Mr. Ash, who has managed a team in the Del Rey American Little League (DRALL) for four years, said. “It’s Americana. That’s what Little League is.”

Mr. Ash, who oversees all of the Rose Bowl’s Game operations, joined the Pasadena Tournament of Roses organization in 1998 as its first football-only employee after 13 years as an administrator at the University of Southern California (USC).

Graduating USC in 1981 with a degree in journalism, Mr. Ash has worked with the organizing committee coordinating the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, and also was director of operations for the 1994 World Cup of soccer in Los Angeles.

At nine years old, Mr. Ash played his first Little League season and remembers playing a lot of outfield. He said that was OK because his father, Willard, a Lincoln Little League board member, was always there hanging over the fence watching him play.

“I was very small, but I always wanted to play,” Mr. Ash, a father of two, said. “The Little League coaches I had are the fondest memories I have as a child. They spent a lot of time with me and cared about me, but you don’t realize what that means until you’re a grown-up.”

Looking back and moving forward, Mr. Ash has married his experiences. He is coaching his son, Connor, as manager of the DRALL major division White Sox, and is reaping many of the same rewards as an adult volunteer that he enjoyed as a player.

“(The Little League field) is the one place I go to forget everything,” Mr. Ash said. “I think it’s therapeutic for me and the kids I coach. Children are remarkable human beings. When you can make them believe, it’s amazing what they can do.”

In 2004, Mr. Ash and his family traveled from their home in Playa Del Rey, Calif., to Williamsport, Pa. for the Little League Baseball World Series.

“It was like being at our own Little League, just 1,000 times bigger,” Mr. Ash said after enjoying a few fun-filled days at the Series. “It was great to see all the different cultures come together and interact.”

Mr. Ash has a unique appreciation for the status that sports carries in the United States and on the world stage. Earlier this year, the 92nd Rose Bowl Game pitted the top-ranked USC Trojans against the University of Texas in the title game of the Bowl Championship Series. The Longhorns defeated Mr. Ash’s alma mater, 41-38, to win the BCS national championship.

“If you surround yourself with good people and make them feel like they are part of the team, you have a great situation going,” Mr. Ash said, describing the parallels between doing his job and running a successful Little League program. “I am in Little League for two reasons. First, I love working with kids and want to give back. Second, it’s a great feeling to teach a child something and see the light go on.”

In the Playa Del Rey area, Mr. Ash said there is abundance of talented collegiate and professional baseball players, many of whom have offered their coaching insights to him. It’s been his personal experience that if the fun is kept in the game, the kids will continue to play.

The free advice coupled with his son’s recent experience in “travel ball” reinforced Mr. Ash’s conviction to the mission of Little League.

“My son played travel ball exclusively last year, and he did well, but he wasn’t having as much fun,” Mr. Ash said. “Now that he is back playing Little League the light is back on, and I know getting him back in the program was the right thing to do.”

Seeing his son’s life mirroring his own, and knowing what was, and has become important to him, Mr. Ash believes ultimately, all you can do is put the next generation in a position to be successful.

For Mr. Ash those fateful steps came as a Little Leaguer, highlighted by a home run on his last Little League at-bat.
Kevin Ash, at left in front row, has managed the major division White Sox in the Del Rey American Little League in Playa Del Rey, Calif., for four years. Connor Ash, Kevin’s son, is pictured to his father’s left in the front row of this 2006 team photo.
Kevin Ash, pictured at lower left, Chief Administrative Officer for the Rose Bowl Game, is seen here escorting 2006 Tournament of Roses President Libby Evans Wright, at right in red, and Grand Marshal Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in white, off the field prior to the start of this year’s Rose Bowl Game.