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USA Softball Olympic Gold Medalist Michele Smith To Conduct Series of Little League Softball Clinics

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Jan. 15, 2008) – Little League Baseball and Softball and two-time USA Softball Olympic gold medalist Michele Smith will once again team up for a series of clinics sponsored by Musco Sports Lighting, the official sports lighting system of Little League.

“Since we starting doing these clinics four years ago, I’ve seen the quality of Little League Softball coaching improve greatly,” Ms. Smith said. “I try to touch on everything, which is tough in five hours, but the most important aspect of the clinic is to remind coaches that elite level softball is built on fundamentals. I try to impress on them that softball is a complex game and that even though something is ‘fundamental’ it is not basic.”

Each of Little League’s five regional centers in the United States have welcomed Ms. Smith in past years as hosts of these one-day events that are open to all Little League managers, coaches, and league officials. The 2008 clinic dates and locations are: Feb. 9 in Bellevue, Wash. (Western Region); Feb. 10 in Albuquerque, N.M. (Southwest Region); March 1 in Kalamazoo, Mich. (Central Region); March 2 at the Southern Region Headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla.; and March 9 at the East Region Headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

“I teach proper fundamentals, so a coach can be confident they are teaching the correct way to play the sport,” Ms. Smith said. “As people get more confident on field, they feel better about what they are teaching. If the players feel their coach is participating and involved, then the player will give a lot more. My message is simple: Stand up, try it, and pass it on.”

Ms. Smith’s training presentation offers tips, techniques, skills, drills, and insight on how to improve a local league’s softball program on the field, while providing advice on how to promote Little League Softball in a local league’s neighborhood or community.

“For several years, Michele Smith has been gracious with her time and expertise on behalf of Little League Softball, and her efforts have made an impact on the local leagues operating softball programs,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “The benefit to local volunteers attending these clinics cannot be overstated. Ms. Smith recognizes and understands the role that Little League Softball can play in the life of a child, and we appreciate her willingness to pass those lessons along to this generation of volunteers and the coming generation of players.”

A heralded pitcher for the U.S. Olympic Softball Team, Ms. Smith helped Team USA to back-to-back gold medals in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She also was a member of the 2002 U.S. national team that won gold at the U.S., and Canada Cups, and the International Softball Federation (ISF) world championships.

In recent years, as an analyst on ESPN’s coverage of the Little League Softball World Series, Ms. Smith’s perspective and experience have influenced the exposure of the Little League Softball program throughout the world. In 2007, Little League International entered the first year of an eight-year television contract with ESPN, that includes coverage on the ESPN family of networks of all four divisions of Little League Softball that culminate with a World Series.

“I get the sense that Little League Softball players and leagues have a growing feeling that they matter, belong and are special,” Ms. Smith said. “That’s how I know we are making a difference in leagues and communities.”

For more information on the Michele Smith Little League Softball Clinics contact the respective clinic host: Bellevue, Wash. – Bob Toigo at: 425-868-4933, or llsmokey@comcast.net; Albuquerque, N.M. – Camilla Serrano at: 505-417-3153, or camillaserrano@hotmail.com; Kalamazoo, Mich. – Bud Vanderberg at: 269-345-3123, or bvanderberg@chartermi.net; Southern Region Headquarters – 727-344-2661, or southregion@LittleLeague.org; East Region Headquarters – 860-585-4730, or eastregion@LittleLeague.org.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and one million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries. In the United States, more than 350,000 children, ages 5-to-18, play Little League Softball.