By Ethan Roy
Jacques Pacifique, a coach of the Australia Region champions, began playing baseball at the age of five.
“I was a normal twelve-year-old, doing everything a twelve-year-old should be doing,” Mr. Pacifique said.
His dad wanted him to play cricket. His mom wanted him to play baseball. Mom won.
At the age of twelve, Mr. Pacifique excelled as a catcher. “I loved being behind the dish,” he said. That same fateful year he was diagnosed with Leukemia.
The illness forced him to step away from the diamond, but he didn’t go far. Mr. Pacifique began coaching at the age of 13. He secured his first head coaching job at 16.
“They say for most cancers, five years from the diagnosis date is when you’re all clear.”
Four years later, Pacifique had returned to school and to baseball, playing on his Senior League team and preparing for his senior year of high school.
“I got to four years, nine months,” Mr. Pacifique recalled.
The Leukemia returned on Christmas Eve of 2014. “I had a ton of support from all communities across the country,” said Mr. Pacifique. His Senior League baseball team alone raised nearly $3,000 to cover his treatment costs.
After relearning how to walk, retraining his taste buds, and spending 40 days in isolated therapy, Mr. Pacifique recovered for a second time. Four years later, he’s guiding a group of Little Leaguers just like him as they prepare to compete at the mecca of youth baseball – the Little League® Baseball World Series.
“I’ve been watching the Little League World Series since I was seven years old,” reflected Mr. Pacifique when asked about this accomplishment. “Seeing this field, seeing this diamond when we got here, honestly I think a little tear trickled down.”
The iconic venue in Williamsport, Pa. holds a special place in the hearts of countless baseball players, coaches, and fans. For Mr. Pacifique, however, it means so much more.
“When we qualified at Nationals, I was on the phone with my dad who supported me all the way through. I was like, we’re going. We’re finally going.”
He didn’t have the chance to make it as a player, but he’s here now as Australia’s coach at the age of 21. Mr. Pacifique has not only adjusted to his identity as a coach. He’s embraced it with open arms and enjoyed every moment of it.
“That’s the exact reason to become a coach” he said. “To see the kids develop to a level where they’re now playing in the Little League World Series … That’s incredible. Words can’t describe the feeling we have now.”
A young man himself, Mr. Pacifique did not hold back from basking in the moment.
“I actually got goosebumps the minute you said that,” he replied when asked what it meant to represent his country at the Little League Baseball World Series.
Mr. Pacifique is living the dream of Little Leaguers® around the world, but in his own way. The dream is the same for all of them – to represent their country at the Little League World Series. For many, that’s all it will ever be, a dream. For others, including Mr. Pacifique, and the players here now, it can be, and is, a reality.