While the on-field action gets a lot of attention at the Little League Baseball® World Series, it’s the dedication of volunteers around the world that make it possible for all children to have a meaningful Little League experience.
On Thursday, Aug. 27, at the Genetti Hotel in downtown Williamsport, Pa., Little League recognized the local contributions of volunteers and one special Little Leaguer at the annual Awards Breakfast. Hosted by ESPN’s Karl Ravech, the event paid tribute to five individuals who exemplify Character, Courage, and Loyalty.
Volunteer of the Year
John M. Murtin, Barnesville, Pa. – Mahanoy City Little League
A lot can change over half a century. In 51 years, Pennsylvania’s Mahanoy City Little League has experienced plenty of changes, but the one constant has been 2015 Little League® Volunteer of the Year Award winner, John M. Murtin.
Throughout his busy professional career, Mr. Murtin always made time for Mahanoy City Little League (MCLL). Mr. Murtin has worked for the league in almost every capacity, including as a Little League father for his sons, Michael and Jonathan. For 46 of his 51 years, though, he was a stalwart in the MCLL coach’s box.
Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award
James Beckum, Milwaukee, Wis. – Beckum-Stapleton Little League
What started with a simple field reservation turned into a life in youth sports for Mr. Beckum, who decided to charter a Little League® in his community the next year. More than 50 years later, the Beckum-Stapleton Little League (BSLL) is still thriving, with Mr. Beckum still devoting his time to the league. It is because of Mr. Beckum’s dedication and consistent care that he was chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award.
With the support and sponsorship of four local churches, the league was formed with about 60 players. Today, more than 300 play in the league, which is now a member of the Little League Urban Initiative, and Mr. Beckum has become an icon of youth sports in the city.
Barbara Sky, San Bernardino, Calif. – Newmark Little League
Ms. Sky began her work with the Challenger Division in 1999, while still serving as the Newmark (Calif.) Little League President. Since that time, she has assumed the duties of Assistant District Administrator California District 43’s Challenger Division.
Ms. Sky oversees recruitment, registration, administration, and fundraising for the Challenger players in her district. She is a constant advocate for the Challenger Division, and its participants. She has opened up other opportunities, outside of baseball, for these children as well, ranging from swimming to karate.
Good Sport Award
Alex Illes, Parkland, Fla. – Parkland Little League
Recovery from a traumatic event is never easy. But when a goal is on the horizon, there is a little more motivation in that battle to get better. For 11-year-old Alex Illes, who was hit by a car just two years ago, his goal was to play again on the Little League® fields at Parkland (Fla.) Little League.
On July 20, 2013, Alex and his older sister, Mya, were walking from an ice cream truck when a young driver swerved around the truck and struck Alex.
Mom of the Year Award
Michele Manahan, Napa, Calif. – Napa Little League
In the world of Little League®, having support at home is important to a child’s success and experience. For a Napa (Calif.) Little Leaguer Nicolas Manahan, his mother, Michele, is the model of a supportive Little League parent.
Michele Manahan is so supportive that Nicolas nominated her for the 2015 Little League Mom of the Year Award.
“I think my mom is the most amazing mom ever,” said Nicolas in his nomination for his mom. “That is even what it says for my mom’s contact in my phone.