The goal of Babe Ruth League, Inc. is to teach youth valuable life lessons via the games of baseball and softball. These games capitalize on the influence made by the collection of individuals on the field. Participating helps kids develop confidence and make quick decisions necessary to succeed in leadership roles of all types. And yes, leadership roles can be developed at a very young age.
Scott Spurgeon, Iowa State Commissioner, spent time this summer at a Babe Ruth Softball Regional Tournament in Bellevue. He admits he enjoys working with the younger kids a little more than the older Babe Ruth age players as the younger kids show their innocence. Their focus is not all about winning. They seek the fun the tournaments have to offer.
Scott met and talked with each one of the 10-year-old girls who came from Kanas, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa to play in the tournament. Most girls were a little bit shy. When the team from Southeast Denver walked in for their team meeting, a girl who wore a ball cap on her head led them in. She needed no help to get her talking. She sat down and announced that she had just driven 13 hours to get to the tournament site and she was ready to play some softball.
Scott questioned her as to who really drove the car. She looked at him with all the confidence in the world and announced that she had driven the entire distance. She was the most outgoing of her teammates and was a lot of fun to talk to. Each time Scott sent a question her way, she replied with confidence no matter whether she was being serious or just enjoying the banter that quickly developed between them.
It was clear to Scott from the beginning that she was also an important part of her team. She was looked to as a leader. Her name was Penelope, but she was known as Penny to everyone.
As the tournament began, Scott watched with anticipation to see how Penny and her team would play. He enjoyed seeing the teams play and could quickly determine which teams would be around longer than others. It was clear to him that the Southeast Denver team and Penny were going to be around a while.
Penny had also told Scott during the team meeting that she played most every position. She was telling the truth. Throughout the tournament she did play several positions and she was probably the team’s best catcher. You see Penny was not a girl who was afraid to get dirty. She sacrificed her body to block pitches in the dirt and keep runners from advancing. She was willing to do whatever necessary to help her team win as many games as possible.
Penny was a player who could do it all. She could hit. She could also motivate her teammates to play hard and was in general an excellent addition to her team. This outgoing, outspoken girl was most definitely a natural born leader and she embraced the leadership role to help her team succeed.
The more this girl played, the more Scott became impressed with her athletic ability to communicate with and motivate others.
Penny and Southeast Denver made it all the way through pool play and to the championship game without a loss. So did the team from Missouri. Missouri was clearly the better team. That didn’t discourage Penny from her normal routine of pumping up her teammates with encouragement or playing as hard as she could. This young lady left everything she had on the diamond. She even suffered a minor injury, but kept right on play.
There are several awards that are given at the end of the tournament. The first and second place teams are well decorated when they leave. Individual medals and team plaques are all awarded. Missouri beat Southeast Denver 10-1 in the championship game. Missouri allowed just three runs to be scored against them in the entire tournament.
The sportsmanship award was given to the host team of Bellevue. But there was one more award that Scott was to give away: the Commissioner’s award. It is considered the most prestigious award of the tournament and could have been give to a player, coach or an entire team that exemplifies what Babe Ruth Softball is all above. Scott had to consider game play, attitude on and off the field and outstanding sportsmanship. You know where he is going with this. Right?
You guessed it. Penelope Urquhart of the Southeast Denver team caught his attention the moment she walked into the tournament team meeting and spent the next three days impressing Scott with her attitude, her game play and her sportsmanship.
In many ways Penny exemplifies what Babe Ruth League is all about. It’s about developing players, and developing an understanding of and a respect for the rules. It’s about developing tolerance and modesty in victory and developing control over emotions and speech. It’s about developing the spirit of cooperation and team play. It’s about developing into real, true citizens.
Penny also reminded Scott she’s still a girl. When he took the photo of Penny with her award, she refused to take her hat off because it would expose her messed up hair.
Congratulations, Penny, on being named the 2017 Midwest Plains Regional Commissioner’s Award Recipient. You deserved it. Babe Ruth League and Scott Spurgeon wish you the best.