My experiences as a player in Little League® are memories that are “priceless.” Let’s examine why.
I don’t remember how many hits, home runs, wins, losses, strikeouts, league championships or all-star wins I had during my Little League days. For whatever reason, these just aren’t important enough to remember.
I do remember how it felt when our phone rang and the coach informed my dad that I was drafted to be a member of the Bastian Tires team. I remember the feeling I had when I first put the uniform on. I remember our coach rewarding us with a snow cone if we committed fewer than four errors in a game, regardless of whether we won or lost.
I remember my all-star coaches, Mr. Cioffi and Mr. Hieber, who put so much time in working with us kids that we often forgot we played baseball. We seemed to gel as friends, and Mr. Cioffi’s practices were filled with interesting, fun drills that reinforced sound fundamentals.
My point is that too often adults get caught up in winning and losing games. Too many times, grown-ups lose sight of why they are there. Staying true to the children of your community is most important. The reason to volunteer should be to provide a safe and fun atmosphere for kids to learn and grow as individuals. Teaching players how to use teamwork and dedication can help them accomplish any goals they set for themselves.
For many years, Mr. Cioffi was a volunteer team host at our Little League Baseball® World Series, and I still would see him from time to time. He passed away not long ago, and when I heard the news, my memories harkened back to all those times when he offered an encouraging word, a pat on the back, or simply gave me a wink that let me know everything was going to be OK. The memories of him reminded me about all that is good about Little League and how much of an impression he made on me. At the time, I had no concept of the lessons about life that he was teaching me, but I get it now.
So, let’s get back to the question: How do you want to be remembered?
There is no better feeling than having one of your former players approach you with their son or daughter and say “Let me introduce you to my Little League coach!”
Through the years, I have volunteered in my local league as a coach and a Board member. I’ve often found myself remembering my time and experience as a Little Leaguer® and letting those memories guide how I approached my team. I’ve had that special moment when a former player has introduced me to his children and seen former players return to Little League as volunteers.
When that time comes there is plenty of reflection and personal pride, but more importantly its then when you realize that you’ve impacted a person’s life. Most people don’t join Little League to be a role model or mentor, but when coaches and players come together and bonds are formed, how you are remembered makes all the difference.
Submitted by Nicholas Caringi, Little League International’s Senior Director of Operations and Education