Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
If you asked someone to describe South Williamsport, how would they describe it?
Would they describe it as a great atmosphere? Would they talk about the players being exposed to players from other countries? Would they talk about the kids getting the chance to play on beautiful fields in front of thousands of fans?
They could describe South Williamsport using any of those descriptions, and much more, but one description that needs to be included are its volunteers.
The presence of volunteers is felt everywhere at the Little League World Series, but especially at games. At the games, announcements are made asking parents and players to keep the volunteers working the games in mind. The umpires are all volunteers who willingly donate their time so that way the games can go on. Between innings, workers are walking the aisles requesting donations.
This year has seen an uptick in donations, though. Not to Little League International, the organization behind the Little League World Series, but to the Middle East-Africa champions from Lugazi, Uganda, Little League.
"One of the most important things is what you can give back. Little League gives you an opportunity to give back."--Southwest Coach Mike Morrow
One team who has been getting in on the act are the Southwest champs, San Antonio, Texas, Little League.
"One of the most important things is what you can give back," coach Mike Morrow said. "Little League gives you an opportunity to give back."
This is actually coach Morrow's second time coaching in South Williamsport, and he said it's everything he's been anticipating.
Morrow said that in getting to know the Uganda players and coaches, they found out that other kids in Uganda don't have a lot of baseball supplies. He said they just don't have the kinds of resources that players all across the United States have.
Once the team found this out, he said one of the other coaches on the team asked Middle East-Africa coach Richard Stanley what baseball equipment his team needed. Morrow said his team gave the Middle East-Africa team "things that were replaced when they got there." So for example, if the Southwest team got new batting gloves, then they gave the Middle East-Africa team their old batting gloves.
It was an unprovoked act of generosity from the Southwest players. "Our kids came up with it on their own," Morrow said.
That is one of the many beauties of South Williamsport, especially with a team like Uganda being here for the first time. Through interacting with the Middle East-Africa champions and the Ugandan players bringing their stories back to Africa, the game of baseball can continue to grow in Africa, even more than it already has.
Morrow said that he hopes by this group of players getting the experience in South Williamsport, the game will become even more popular.
"I hope it helps it grow," Morrow said. "I think it will."
He said at least for the league back home in San Antonio, Texas, the excitement from past appearances in the Little League World Series has helped it grow.
In order to help a sport grow in any country, you need to have good quality individuals, and Morrow says Middle East-Africa has that.
"They are fantastic," Morrow said.
He said the team is a "great group of kids and coaches."
While the team has been giving back to others, the team has also been giving back to two of their own. Carter Elliot and Kevin Fleisher both have diabetes, and they said teammates will ask them how they are doing.
"They don't give me a hard time," Elliot said.
Fleisher said playing with diabetes can sometimes make things difficult. "It can be very challenging at times," he said.
He said that he will check his glucose level seven to 12 times a day. In order to keep track of his glucose level, he has a handheld glucose meter that reads out his level to him.
When Elliot and Fleisher check their glucose levels and it is either to low or too high, there is an appropriate reaction to take for each. If there glucose level is too high, they have to give their body more insulin, and if it is too low, they have to give their body more carbohydrates. Elliot said he also takes a shot before every meal.
Morrow said they are constantly checking their blood pressures and they know to take care of themselves.
"Their well versed in doing it," he said
Just like their coach, Elliot and Fleisher hope the best for the Middle East-Africa champs.
"They're awesome," Fleisher said. "We love those guys."
Fleisher said he hopes the Uganda team had a lot of fun.
When asked what about South Williamsport they were most excited for, Elliot said to meet "the kids from other countries.
If fans have learned anything this year in South Williamsport, it's that meeting kids from other countries definitely has its benefits.
The charity "Pitch in for Baseball" has teamed up with Uganda Little League to donate equipment to the Uganda community and help grow baseball in the country. If you would like to make a donation or learn more about the project, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/expand-youth-baseball-and-softball-in-uganda/