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Dr. Darrell Burnett, Member of the Little League International Board of Directors, Selected as One of Sports Most Influential Sports Educators

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Nov. 12, 2007) – The Institute for International Sport (IIS) has recognized Dr. Darrell Burnett, a member of the Little League International Board Directors, as one of the 100 most influential sports educators in the United States.

“For me, the hours I spend      volunteering in the Little League Challenger program are effortless.”

Dr. Darrell Burnett
Assistant District Administrator for Little League Challenger Division,
California Districts 55 and 68

Dr. Burnett, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., is a licensed clinical psychologist, a marriage, family, and child therapist, and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. As a Little League volunteer, he coordinates the Challenger Division in California Districts 55 and 68, and has served on the board of directors for Rancho Niguel Little League since 1987. Joining the Little League Challenger program in 1991, Dr. Burnett was appointed the District 55 Assistant District Administrator for the Challenger Division in 1992.

“I can’t say enough about the benefits of giving special needs children an opportunity to participate in the great sport of baseball,” Dr. Burnett said. “Having fun, learning skills and taking pride in making progress are what youth sports should be, especially if it’s measured in progress and effort, not end product. For me, the hours I spend volunteering in the Little League Challenger program are effortless.”

Earlier this year, during the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Dr. Burnett was presented with the 2007 Little League Challenger Award, and was nominated for a seat on Little League International’s board of directors. Voting on his nomination will took place on Nov. 9.

Dr. Burnett organizes the Challenger Division closing ceremonies for Districts 55 and 68, which for the last two years has included a trip to Angels Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 2007 Bank of America Orange County Little League Challenger Classic at Angel Stadium of Anaheim was held on Nov. 3, and involved nearly 700 Challenger Division players on 26 teams from Orange County, Calif. More than 200 “buddies,” volunteer non-disabled players from the local Little Leagues, also took part in the two-inning, one-hour games on several designated diamonds on the outfield grass. The buddies cheered on the Challenger Division players and helped where needed.

“I try to let kids know that the great thing about sports is they teach that it’s alright to make mistakes, because that’s how you learn,” Dr. Burnett said. “With special needs children, if they focus on their skills, measuring progress in terms of frequency (good stuff is happening more often than bad stuff), duration (good stuff is lasting longer than bad stuff), and intensity (more energy into good stuff, less energy into bad stuff) they’re less likely to give up. I think this philosophy also helps volunteers who work with special needs children. Everyone gets less stressed, less impatient, and less frustrated, if the focus is on progress and process. Volunteers can take a lesson from the Challenger players as they watch them continue their efforts at learning skills.”
The core criteria for the IIS selection committee was the effective use of sport as a means to educate. The selection of the top 100 sports educators was the culmination of a three-year project.
“In America and in many other countries, we honor elite athletes, winning coaches, wealthy team owners and media moguls. We praise sports educators yet we really do not honor them in a manner befitting their admirable impact on society,” Dan Doyle, executive director of the Institute of International Sport, said. “This project is aimed at honoring individuals and organizations that have creatively and effectively used sport in the very best way - as a means to educate and shape positive values.”
The Institute for International Sport, based in Kingston, R.I., on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, was founded in 1986 by Mr. Doyle. The basic concept of the Institute is rooted in his experiences overseas in the 1960s and 70s. While traveling in Europe as a prep basketball player in 1968, and visiting Cuba as the head men's basketball coach of Trinity College in 1979, Mr. Doyle saw the power of sport as a medium to foster friendship and goodwill.

Other notable sports figures on the list include: Baseball Hall of Fame member, and Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence enshrinee Cal Ripken, Jr.; Jim Thompson, founder and executive director of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) at Stanford University; Dr. Vivian Acosta and Dr. Linda Jean Carpenter, advocates for collegiate women’s athletics and Title IX; and Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University’s men’s basketball coach.

Dr. Darrell Burnett (white Angels jersey) has volunteered in California’s Rancho Niguel Little League for more than 20 years. Since 1991, Dr. Burnett has been a driving force behind the Little League Challenger Division in Districts 55 and 68. Last August, during the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, his efforts were recognized with the presentation of the Little League Challenger Award. Recently, Dr. Burnett was named as one of sports most influential educators by the Institute for International Sport. Dr. Burnett also is a nominee to the Little League International Board of Directors.