SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A Rhode Island Little League coach had a team of disappointed kids when they were eliminated from tournament play, but his speech is one for the very best of books.
Illinois beat out Rhode Island in a close game Monday during elimination rounds for the Little League World Series. As you might imagine, the boys from Rhode Island were visibly upset in their defeat. Some willfully fought back tears, but others couldn't hide their disappointment or tear-stained cheeks.
Their coach, Dave Belisle, gathered them around, made them lift their heads and look him in the eye, then gave an encouraging and positive speech that may be held up as an example to anyone who coaches or watches any children's sports.
Belisle already knows his team is hurting, so he doesn't need to hurt them more by pointing out the flaws of the game. He instead only mentions points of pride in their game, sportsmanship and efforts.
"There's no disappointment in your effort in the whole tournament, in the whole season. It's been an incredible journey," Belisle begins.
The speech goes inspirationally on, including two particularly touching moments. First, Belisle tells the kids that the only reason he personally might shed a tear is because it's likely his last year coaching. Second, he brings his team in for a group hug where you can hear the boys' sobs as Belisle wraps up his speech.
"I love you guys, and I'll love you forever, and you've given me the most precious moment of my athletic and coaching career," he said. "I'm getting to be an old man, I need memories like this, I need kids like this. You're all my boys."