By Beth Cox
The Little League baseball/softball season is about to end. The all-star teams will be chosen in just a few short weeks, and then tournament action begins for Johnson County’s youngest players.
The coaches see the end in sight. They are tired but so happy to be a part of an organization that promotes teamwork and dedication. As the regular season closes, coaches have time to reflect on the whole coaching experience, some are first-time coaches, and others have been at it for a while.
The length of time for a coach really does not matter, dedicated coaches all agree the highlight of this year’s season is watching a young player with minimal experience slowly progress and learn more about the game and techniques of how to be a better player, but everyone likes winning as well.
Abby Cornett recalls the first win of the season for her team. “I was coaching third base when the player who made the winning hit came around, and we celebrated together; it was a lot of
fun seeing the team be so
excited for something they had been working so hard for,” Cornett said.
Natalie Winters agrees with her coaching partner about that first win and simply loves to see the youngest players on the field show up and play fearlessly and get better and more secure in the game’s skills.
“I love watching the girls get better each week, but also see how they just love the game more and more each time,” Winters said.
Coach Nicholas Perkins from H&R Block White Sox enjoyed the season as well but feels it’s who is coaching with you that determines the highlight of a season. “When thinking about the highlight of this season, it has to be coaching alongside Coach Lisa Mullins and Bryan Bauguess,” Perkins said.
He sees the importance of Little League as having the opportunity to play with and against your friends, neighbors, and people in your community.
There are setbacks to coaching Little League, but mainly the setbacks are weather-related or a win/loss record. The weather was not very cooperative at the beginning of the season, so many games had to be made up later, which can mess up plans for coaches, teams, and families. As the season ends, all coaches take a look at their record.
The losses are tough, and the level of performance or age doesn’t change that, but scorebooks are great motivators for players and coaches to continue to move forward in performance and perseverance. Vols Coach Gary Evans said it’s hard to lose games by such a small margin when the players have worked so hard, but as Coach Cliff Mahala points out, the Vols have the youngest team playing, so he agrees losing is hard but knows his players are getting better each game.
The most important part of Little League is the community in which it is played, so a successful Little League program is cheering on everyone because they know it is all interwoven into a community that values life lessons and development over numbers on the scoreboard.