Three New Members Join Little League International Advisory Board
Long-time Little League District Administrators Joe Wendler and Robert Olson, Jr., and former District Administrator Rob Fitch today joined the Little League International Advisory Board it was announced by Stephen D. Keener, Little League International President and Chief Executive Officer.
The Little League International Advisory Board provides counsel and recommendations to the Little League Baseball and Softball staff and senior management. Its annual fall meeting begins today at Little League International in South Williamsport, Pa.
The 12-member board provides input, perspective and opinion on current aspects of the Little League program and proposed new initiatives, all for the purpose of maintaining Little League Baseball and Softball as the world’s leader in the youth sports arena.
“It is vital that Little League continue to provide an effective program with a goal that all participants, parents and volunteers have a rewarding and enriching Little League experience,” Mr. Keener said. “The three new members of the Advisory Board have distinct backgrounds at various levels of Little League, and their collective experience will provide educated and informed voices regarding the future direction of the program.”
Mr. Fitch, of Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada, has served 21 years as a Little League volunteer. In 1987, he coached his first Tee Ball game, and by 1995, he had been elected as North Vancouver District 5 Administrator.
After serving out his term in District 5, Mr. Fitch was again elected to an administrative position, serving as an Assistant District Administrator for B.C. Vancouver District 1 beginning in 2004. He assumed the District Administrator position following the 2007 passing of District Administrator Wayne Smyth.
“It was a great surprise to learn I’d be invited to be on the Little League International Advisory Board,” Mr. Fitch said. “I’m a strong believer in Little League and I look forward to open and productive discussions.
“I’ll be there to put forth a voice and provide opinions, but I’ll want to make sure my information is correct before passing it on to the board,” Mr. Fitch said. “I believe we all see children’s safety as a priority, and I expect we’ll all be doing our best to keep the program strong.”
Mr. Wendler, of Glenville, Pa., has served as Pennsylvania District 14 Administrator since 1997.
“I was honored to be selected,” Mr. Wendler said. “I would like to offer advice or insight when appropriate.”
One of Mr. Wendler’s initial considerations involves providing additional direction for volunteers at the local level.
“I feel it would be beneficial if Little League could develop a way to determine what is important to the Little League constituents, namely parents, children and sponsors,” Mr. Wendler said. “I think it will be good to discuss and then possibly develop a strategy to provide tactical support to volunteers that would help them to support the strategy.”
Bob Olsen, Jr.
Mr. Olson, of Grand Rapids, Minn., has served as Minnesota District 4 Administrator since 2005.
“When I received the letter from Mr. Keener, I was shocked and honored,” Mr. Olson said. “I had to read the letter several times to be sure of what I was reading, because I had no clue this was coming.
“It's pretty cool when a small-town kid, who was always a benchwarmer, can become a Little League coach, local league board member, league president, district administrator, a member of the Central Region Advisory Board, and now get a seat on the International Advisory Board.
“Little League Baseball is my passion,” Mr. Olson said. “It’s where all kids get to play in the game and not be a benchwarmer. Somewhere I read ‘Little League not only creates ballplayers, but also creates great citizens.’ I am a true believer in that statement. I guess in a way, I'm living proof that Little League can affect one's life in a very positive way.”
Little League considers the input of the Advisory Board as vital in providing an effective program to ensure that all participants, parents and volunteers have a rewarding and enriching Little League experience. Board members are current and former district administrators, assistant district administrators and other volunteers whose many years of experience at the local level of Little League operations are highly valued by Little League International.
Each board member serves a three-year term. The Advisory Board convenes twice a year, once by conference call and once at Little League International in South Williamsport.
The Little League International Advisory Board has gathered in South Williamsport, Pa., for its annual meeting. The 12 members of the board are, from left in the front row, Tony Tolino, Jr., Joe Wendler, Debbie Bedell, Bob Olson, Jr., and John Mitchell, Jr. Pictured in the back row from left are, Bill Sedlacek, Bruce Wilson, Rob Fitch, Joe Patterson, Sr., Mert Leeman, Serafin Gomez and Robert “Biff” Newnam. Each member of the board is invited by the Little League President and Chief Executive Officer to serve a three-year term. New to the board this year are Mr. Fitch, Mr. Wendler and Mr. Olson.
Below is a list of the current members on the Little League International Advisory Board.
Name Region State or Country Term Expires
Bruce Wilson Southwest Mississippi 2010
Joe Patterson Southwest Texas 2010
Mert Leeman Southeast Florida 2010
Bill Sedlacek West Wyoming 2010
Debbie Bedell West Oregon 2010
Tony Tulino Central Ohio 2011
John Mitchell Southeast Virginia 2011
Robert “Biff” Newnam East Delaware 2011
Serafin Gomez International Mexico 2011
Rob Fitch Canada British Columbia 2012
Bob Olson, Jr. Central Minnesota 2012
Joe Wendler East Pennsylvania 2012