By Cecil Wright, Sports Columnist
When I was growing up, lo those many years ago, of course, I received plenty of support from my parents in all my sporting endeavors, though my Mom was somewhat reluctant to cheer on my high school football aspirations. Anything else, however, was pretty much accepted, especially baseball.
My first Little League baseball coach was Mr. Brewer whose son Ken was the star of the team, but his father played no favourites. He treated each one of us as if we were his own child cheering us on when we did something positive and taking us aside and explaining the nuances of the game when we made mistakes. He knew we were learning how to play the game and he wanted us to be eager to learn and understand before we were able to go out and execute to his satisfaction.
I have never forgotten that and wish I had thanked him for his patience and encouragement. He’s the kind of person involved in the game for all the right reasons; to teach, to lead and inspire youngsters to stay connected, and maintain that connection with their teammates and coaches.
Recently, I have come across another person who is connected to the game primarily for the benefit of the enormous numbers of children and youth who participate in the Hammonds Plains Baseball Association (HPBA). Her name is Holly LaPierre, and she is the president of the HPBA.
Quite honestly, I don’t know how she is able to perform all the related duties of her position with her unrivaled passion. It’s a miracle that she connects everything and everyone without skipping a beat especially considering that there are over 700 participants in the HPBA.
“We have eight House Leagues consisting of 35 teams ranging from 6U to 23U and additionally we have 17 Rep (competitive travel) teams, one at each level, including three girl’s teams.”
Another tremendous program of which Holly is extremely proud of is their Challenger Program. Challenger Baseball is a program that provides an opportunity for children with cognitive and/or physical special needs to enjoy the full benefits of participating in baseball at a level structured to their abilities. Each child is partnered with a buddy who assists them in all aspects of the game. Games are played in a fun, safe and non-competitive environment. “The buddies are players from all the other teams within our association” Holly says. “Each of our teams are required to commit at least one night which provides an extra ten or twelve buddies per game.”
Last summer was difficult for everyone involved in athletics and the HPBA had the season wiped away by Covid, however, Holly was as innovative as one could be. She implemented a wiffle ball league with teams consisting of two outfielders, a pitcher, and a catcher.
Now that the sport has relatively returned to normal, Holly is kept busy by coordinating the activities at the 10 fields used by her teams. It is a daunting task with her ringtone of Hotel California popping up every minute.
If Mr. Brewer was in these parts, I would certainly introduce him to Holly as they have so much in common. Selflessly making personal sacrifices to make the lives of children and youth more positive is a personal trait that is not shared by everyone in our society. Take a bow, Holly!
More on her incredible story next month.