"None of us coaches planned for all that's happened with our boys' baseball team; it developed organically and our team has really become an extended family," says George McCafferty Jr., one of four coaches for a team in the Newtown Little League.
Even with three young children of his own, George says he never shied away from taking on a coaching role. "I wanted to be there for my kids. And by doing so, I also made it fun and engaging for the other kids involved with the teams."
However, George admits that when it came to baseball, there was no master plan for approaching the coaching role. He hadn't been a college baseball player or minor leaguer, but he says he grew up with his own father coaching. So, he knew it was something that required a solid time commitment and effort to do well. "I got started with my kids in CRNAA when they were 5 years old, and I can still remember matching up with Todd Dreby. Looking back, the boys seemed like babies," he adds.
By the time the team's boys were 7 years old, George says they were involved with tournament team play, and fellow dads, Casey McDonnell and Chris Seiler, joined their crew. As 8-year-olds, they won a Suburban Travel Championship. So the tenacious fathers say they then prepared the team for district play and a run at a state title. George says little by little, year by year, they grew into a tight-knit group. "We've seen horrible tragedy, as well as incredibly fun, memorable moments."
George verifies that the coaching foursome all had coaches while they were growing up. He says coaches impact youth lives in a variety of ways. He adds, "Collectively, we hope when our players are adults that they look back on their Little League days with the same type of great memories."
Because the Council Rock Little League was founded in 1953, this year represents the group's 70th Little League season. "Through those 70 years of Little League, there've been countless dads, like us, who have stepped up to coach, as well as volunteer at the board level to keep CRNAA thriving.
This is an ever-changing and evolving group of people committed to the tradition of Little League and working to make a fun, safe place in our community."
George says most of the local baseball coaches started with their kids around 5 years old, and "in a blink of an eye, they're aging out of Little League at 12." During that time, he says countless new coaches step in and out via a cycle that continues, year after year.
"No one is paid, no one is there who doesn't want to be there. This is all done in the pure spirit of volunteerism," asserts George.
As a youth coach, George shares that he believes they actually serve as a combination of teachers, counselors and nurses to their team players, and many times, become second parents to the kids. "Especially with baseball, where we can have kids both for in-house and travel teams, we're with them as much as their teachers, and sometimes more than their parents in any given week. The coach/player relationship is a unique one, for sure," he says.
George says their current coaching staff has 13 children of their own between the four of them. "We're constantly running from one child's event to another, and yet we make every effort to be there for our team. We have a shared goal of giving them tools to be successful on the field, excellent sportsmen and hope many of these lessons carry over to off the field."
CRNAA present board members are: Lou Schiller, president, Kyle Neeld, DJ Pascone, Mike Bukowski, Andrew Palsky, Brad Hamilton, George McCafferty, Jeremy Cruz and Casey McDonnell. George says each of these board members has coached in CRNAA for multiple years, with their own children ranging in age from T-ball to college age.
"Each one has put in a tremendous effort to volunteer and support the Newtown Baseball community," George says. "With this being the 70th season, this board is just a small fraction of those that have come before them."
Parent coaches embody an important aspect of fatherhood: caring for the ethical, physical and spiritual well-being of their team, including their own child.
70 Years of Grippin' Seams and Chasin' Dreams!