If you’re a part of the Longwood Babe Ruth League, you might recognize Gayle Coutant and her family. To some, Gayle is known as “Baseball Mom” to players Bryson and Chad. And to others, more specifically in the t-ball division, she is known as “Coach Gayle.” Gayle spends countless hours at Candyland Park in Longwood watching her sons play and coaching her grandson Nolan and his t-ball team. She’s currently the only female baseball coach in the Longwood Babe Ruth League.
The opportunity for Gayle and her husband Jeff to coach Nolan (the son of Gayle’s oldest daughter Alyssa) is quite special, but this isn’t the first time Gayle has managed a team. She also coached her oldest son Bryson’s t-ball team when he was first introduced to the game. Both Bryson and Gayle’s younger son, Chad, began with t-ball in Longwood and continue to play Babe Ruth Baseball.
Gayle and Jeff have been watching their boys play ball for many years. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. “We live at the ball field,” says Gayle. “We enjoy watching the kids learn from their experiences, and it’s wonderful to watch the excitement through their eyes.”
On coaching a t-ball team for a second generation, Gayle says it takes patience, but it’s also extremely rewarding. “You need to think about being a teacher when you’re out there,” she says. “You have to try to put things in perspective for the kids. They are the forefront for the future of the league. I want them to have fun and have a great experience.”
Being a part of Longwood Babe Ruth since 2003, Gayle still feels the camaraderie with every practice and game at Candyland Park.
“There is always a very positive atmosphere that exists here,” she says. “Being a part of this league has given our kids – and grandson – the opportunity to learn this American sport while establishing lifelong friendships.”
Not only is Sarah Reece active in Altamonte as the city’s District 3 Commissioner, she’s been extremely involved in the city’s Altamonte Babe Ruth League, thanks to her three ball-playing sons: Steven, Sean and Seth.
“Between working full-time and raising the three boys, baseball was an activity that allowed me to participate in their lives,” Sarah says.
In addition to being a team mom, Sarah was also Treasurer of the Little League Board of Directors. And when the program transitioned from Little League to Babe Ruth, Sarah was the first League President. She left her role as president in 1999 to take her seat on the city commission, but she returned to league administration in 2006 and has since served as the Assistant Florida State Commissioner of Babe Ruth Baseball.
“This experience has been great,” Sarah says. “You get to meet people, coaches, and families from other sites. It is work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
In 2014, Sarah was the Director for the Southeast Regional Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament hosted by Altamonte.
As Sarah’s son Seth finished out the baseball program, he continued to work as an assistant coach for the league while still in high school. After college, Seth returned to coach the senior Babe Ruth League.
And now, the third generation of the Reece family is stepping up to bat. Seth’s son (and Sarah’s grandson) Logan is the newest family ballplayer. Seth has coached him in t-ball, the Rookie division and now in the Minor league.
Sarah and Seth are also responsible for starting Central Florida Bambino Buddy Ball, a program created for special-needs children. They raised more than $72,000 to build accessible rubber fields for the kids. The program, which started out with only nine children, now has more than 100 players.
Today, Sarah enjoys watching her son coach and her grandson play, even though she says watching the games is still as “nerve-wracking” as they were back when her boys were on the field. However, Sarah has loved the entire experience with the program.
“I think the experience, no matter where you are, has to do with the people you meet, the parents, and the coaches,” she says. “The fields are beautiful, and it’s a place where my sons – and grandson- have made so many positive memories.”
Being a mom usually means long hours and lots of work. Often there aren’t too many “thank yous” floating around. Sometimes it’s because life just becomes too busy that there aren’t the moments for those words to be sincerely spoken or it’s because you are always there doing what you do, and those words get forgotten.
Babe Ruth League thanks Gayle Coutant and Sarah Reece for being there for their kids, as well as our participants. Thank you for giving these children a sense of worth, just by being there for them, unconditionally, over and over again. Thank you for never giving up on them, even when you are exhausted. Thank you for having that special place in your heart that has been, and will forever be, saved for these kids. No matter what. Thank you for all the things you do, day in and day out, that you don’t think of as “special” or deserving a thank you. Thank you for being you!
(Some excerpts provided from a November 1, 2014 article written by Pam Neff, who is an Associate Publisher of Altamonte-Wekiva Springs Life)