When the eight Marshall County Little League All-Star teams finally take the field for play this weekend they will be well prepared for action because of the hard work and dedication of the myriad of volunteer coaches and supportive parents that guide these young boys and girls.
The MCLL has a long and rich history in All-Star competition and much credit has to go to all the people who work with the area's youth to prepare them to be the best they can be.
In a matter of just two weeks, from the end of the regular season to the beginning of All-Star play, the coaches must mold a group of twelve players into a cohesive unit. Many of the ball players must learn new positions in this short period of time and practices are long, hot, and hard.
"It is really nothing that we do, everything is in these girl's heart," said Mike "Gumby" Wortham, manager of the 9-10 year old girls softball team for the third consecutive year. "It is about effort, dedication, being together, and doing everything as a team. There are no individuals."
Scott Bush, manager of the 9-10 year old boy South All-Stars has coached eight All-Star teams and stated, "We try to put together the best defensive unit we can. A lot of it is just a gut feeling about who will play where. These are all good kids who have great parental support.
"We do a lot team drills and practice for two and half hours a day to get them ready. In fact, we just held a swim party to try to get the boys united as one," Bush said.
Steve Hobbs who manages the 11-12 year old boy's South team has been around All-Star competition most of his life and said, "We do the best we can in the short amount of time we have. Most of the boys this age play travel ball so they know what it takes to get ready."
Hobbs is helped by Rex Richardson, Tony Kirby, and Thornton Thomas and said, "As long as they hustle, they can play. They want to win, we want to win, and they are going to win because we are going to push them."
Joe Calahan, assistant coach for the 11-12 year old girl's softball team said, "This is just all hard work and dedication on everyone's part. We stress being a team. We hammer it into their heads all the time, team, team, team. We were second last year and this year we want to be state champions."
Bush is assisted by John Looney and Steve Muylle and stated, "This is a real positive experience for these kids. We play to win and we play to learn. These are all the kids that will end up playing and being the stars of Babe Ruth, middle school, and high school."
Muylle said, "We will do anything for these kids, we all get a lot of satisfaction watching them succeed."
"Gumby", who will be assisted by Casey Davis wanted to let all of Marshall County know that if you want to watch his 9-10 year old girl's team play "you better come on out to the park Friday and Saturday because we are going to be two and through and send Giles County back to Pulaski."
There is no lack of confidence in any of these coaches, they all know what it takes to win, they all exude a special air of self-belief, and it rubs off on their players as they prepare them for battle versus other squads that are just as hungry for victory as they are.
All of Marshall County should be thankful that we have such dedicated men and women who take time away from their own families and jobs during this time of year and give it back to our youth. The players are All-Stars because they have earned a spot on the field and the coaches are All-Stars because they all selflessly give their blood, sweat, and tears to help the boys and girls to reach further than they ever thought was possible.