You always hear people say that youth sports are supposed to be about having fun and building character.
Dave Belisle, the head coach of Cumberland American, whose Rhode Island team represented the Northeast in the Little League World Series, drove that point home for his team and for the people who have seen his incredibly moving speech.
Belisle’s team was eliminated from the tournament Monday night after a hard-fought loss to Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West squad by a score of 8-7.
After the loss, Belisle delivered the following words to his team:
Everybody, heads up high. Heads up high. Let’s talk for a moment. I’ve got to see your eyes, guys.
There’s no disappointment, in your effort in the whole tournament and the whole season. It’s been an incredible journey. We fought — look at the score, 8-7, 12-10 in hits — it came to the last out, we didn’t quit. That’s us! Boys, that’s us.
The only reason why I’ll probably end up shedding a tear is because this is the last time I’m going to end up coaching you guys. But I’m going to bring back with me, and the coaching staff is going to bring back with me, and you guys are going to bring back something that no other team can provide but you guys, and that’s pride. OK? Pride. You’re going to take that for the rest of your life, what you provided for a town in Cumberland.
You had the whole place jumping, right? You had the whole state jumping, you had New England jumping, you had ESPN jumping, OK? Because you want to know why? They like fighters. They like sportsmen. They like guys who don’t quit. They like guys who play the game the right way.
We got down to the nitty-gritty. We’re one of the best teams in the world. Think about that for a second — for the world. So we need to go see our parents, because they’re so proud of you. One more, I want a big hug. I want everyone to come in here for one big hug. Then we’re going to go celebrate with our parents, and then tomorrow we’re going to celebrate, and then we’re going to come back home to a big parade. OK? Got it?
I love you guys, I’m gonna love you forever, and you’ve given me the most precious moment of my athletic and coaching career, and I’ve been coaching a long time — a long time. I’m getting to be an old man, I need memories like this, I need kids like this. You’re all my boys, you’ll be the boys of summer.
So for the last time, we’re gonna try to suck it up and we’re gonna yell Americans, OK? 1-2-3 …
OK, boys. Good job.