Brad Lauwers led his Little League Baseball® team from Alaska to five-straight Northwest Region tournaments from 2003-07.
A long time Little League Baseball® volunteer and former manager of Dimond-West Little League lived out one of his dreams on the basketball court after being named as the head coach for the West Boys Team at the 41st McDonald’s All-American Games. Brad Lauwers, a native of Anchorage, Ala., lead the all-star team from the sidelines during the nation’s premier high school basketball all-star event on March 28 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. His West squad posted a 131-128 victory over the East representative.
“I’m was really excited,” said Mr. Lauwers. “I spent a lot of my life coaching basketball. This is what I’ve worked at and what I’ve always been around. It was a thrill to be around all that talent. I did my best for them and represented the state as best that I could.”
Currently a teacher and head basketball coach for A.J. Dimond High School in Anchorage, Ala., Mr. Lauwers has always had a passion for helping to teach young athletes, a passion that continued to grow thanks to his time spent coaching his sons on the baseball fields at Dimond-West Little League.
“While teaching at Dimond [High School], a fellow teacher, Tim Callahan told me we need to get our kids involved with Tee Ball and made it clear it was something we had to do,” said Mr. Lauwers. “I really got hooked when I was back in that baseball lifestyle. I think Little League is the best father-child sport. There’s just something great about it. It became a summer ritual for me and my sons and is something I’ll never forget.”
During his time as the manager with Dimond-West LL, Mr. Lauwers helped lead his team to the Northwest Regional Tournament five consecutive years in the early-to-mid 2000s, including a 2006 appearance in the Northwest Region Championship where the team fell 5-4 in a seven-inning game to Oregon. That game continues to be the closest that a team from Alaska has made it to qualifying for the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
“One of the highlights of my sports life was getting off the bus in San Bernardino and seeing those Little League fields,” said Mr. Lauwers. “That’s something I will never forget.”
Heading into the iconic games in Atlanta, Mr. Lauwers was hoping to take some of his experiences from his time with Dimond-West Little League out onto the court as he coached a group of highly-talented high school basketball players across the country for a memorable day.
“It’s amazing what experience did for us down there [in San Bernardino],” said Mr. Lauwers. “As a coach, being in the coaching box in San Bernardino was really a blessing. You had to make decisions and make them in a heartbeat. In basketball, you have to decide what and where and make quick decisions. That was a good training ground to be in the spotlight and make those choices.”
In the mind of Mr. Lauwers, the opportunity for young coaches to step in and serve as a coach for a group of young athletes has become one of the most important things someone can do because of the impact that it can have on their confidence, growth, and development as not only an athlete, but more importantly a human being.
“While X’s and O’s are great and a big part of sports, so much of athletics is relational,” said Mr. Lauwers. “When you’re a young coach and you model good behavior, these kids are going to follow you because they’re closer in age. Young coaches have tremendous opportunities to build relationships and really influence kids because of that closeness in age.”
While the majority of Mr. Lauwers’ focus continues to be served in the classroom and on the basketball court, a piece of Little League forever remains ingrained inside him as he now dedicates a piece of his time as a volunteer umpire in his local league in hopes to one day return to the fields of San Bernardino, Calif., where it all began.
“I don’t like being apart from baseball, so I started to umpire again,” said Mr. Lauwers. “I’ve been able to do some state championships and I’m really enjoying that contribution. My future goal is to return to San Bernardino, this time as an umpire, when I have a chance to focus more on it.”
Mr. Lauwers served as the head coach of the Boys West Team during the 41st McDonald’s All-American Games at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Coaching alongside Mr. Lauwers was his son, Colton, who served as one of the assistant coaches along with Krehg Perez.
“It was great sharing experiences among us coaches and building relationships with these players,” said Mr. Lauwers. “I was really thankful to be there. I have a love for the sport and I wanted to honor it while I was there.”