Youth sports, at its core, are supposed to build character, develop teamwork and probably most importantly, teach kids that it's OK to not win every time.
Dave Belisle, the head coach of Cumberland American, whose Rhode Island team represented the Northeast in the Little League World Series, nailed it in his postgame speech following Monday night's 8-7 elimination loss to Chicago's Jackie Robinson West squad.
“You're gonna take that [pride] for the rest of your life, what you provided to a town in Cumberland," Belisle told his devastated team. "You had the whole place jumping, right? You had the whole state jumping. You had New England jumping. You had ESPN, jumping, OK?”
They lost but he's still proud of them. Couldn't be prouder. And they lost. Hmm. What a concept? Next time you think about raising your voice at a volunteer Little League umpire or you feel the urge to berate a ref for a blown handball in your kid's soccer game, think about Belisle's message.
“I'm getting to be an old man. I need memories like this. I need kids like this. You're all my boys. You're the boys of summer.”
We'll leave it at that.
(Here's the Providence Journal with the entire transcript of the speech, should you maybe, possibly want to build a plaque with this speech at your local field.)