Looking Back at Kathy Barnard, the First Female Coach at the Little League Baseball® World Series

Kathy Barnard with 1993 Team

Each year, Little League® International celebrates its Girls with Game Initiative, recognizing the girls and women who have made the Little League program what it is today. Looking back through the 75-year history of the Little League Baseball® World Series, one of the most inspiring females continues to be Kathy Barnard, the first female to manage a team at the iconic event in Williamsport.

In 1993, Ms. Barnard led a group of kids from Lynn Valley Little League in North Vancouver, British Columbia, to Williamsport to represent Canada in the Little League Baseball World Series. It was the first and last time the league from Lynn Valley earned a trip to Williamsport, but the league made sure to make it a memorable one.

After a tough loss in the opening game against eventual runner-up Latin America, Ms. Barnard was able to bring her team back and earn an 8-1 victory over Kaiserslautern Little League of Germany. Unfortunately, their run came to an end in their next matchup, falling on a walk-off to CMNI Little League out of Garapan City, Saipan.  While the time spent playing on the field may have concluded, it was the memories and experiences that those players would remember for the rest of their lives.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” said Mrs. Barnard in a 1993 Chicago Tribune interview. “These kids have given me the memory of a lifetime. I didn’t coach ball to become the first woman in the Little League World Series. I did it because I love it.”

While it is always exciting for someone to earn a trip to Williamsport, for Ms. Barnard, the experience of playing through the Little League International Tournament was even more special as she had the opportunity to coach her own son, Spencer, through that entire summer.

“Having my son here is kind of nice,” she said in a 1993 interview. “I can’t imagine too many mothers will have this experience.”

For Ms. Barnard, Spencer, and the entire Lynn Valley Little League team, that World Series appearance marked a moment in history that will help inspire future generations of the game. By leading her team, and creating history as the first female coach, Ms. Barnard became one of the Little League Baseball World Series most memorable Girls with Game. Today, the hat she wore during that World Series appearance sits on display within The World of Little League® Museum, inspiring all those who come through. To learn how you can visit the Museum, and see the display, visit LittleLeague.org/Museum.

NOTE: This story is a piece of the 75-Part Content Series celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Little League Baseball World Series in August 2022. Join in on the celebration by using #LLWS75 on social media and by tagging @LittleLeague on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information on the celebration, please visit LittleLeague.org/75.