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    News — Little League Coach

    Little League® World Series Expansion Postponed Until 2022

    Little League® World Series Expansion Postponed Until 2022

    Due to the ongoing impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, that included the cancellation of the 2020 Little League® World Series and Regional Tournaments, the Little League International Board of Directors will postpone the expansion of the Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® World Series until 2022. The decision allows the organization, and its local programs, to fully focus on providing the best 2021 season possible for all players, families, volunteers, and fans.

    “After a thorough review of our organization’s strategic initiatives as well as the ongoing uncertainty of how the Coronavirus pandemic will continue to impact the Little League program, the Little League International Board of Directors felt this was the best decision for the success of our organization and for the overall experience of each of our 6,500 local leagues,” said Hugh. E. Tanner, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman. “We look forward to the continued efforts to make the experience at all our regional and World Series tournaments exciting and memorable. The expansion of our Little League Baseball and Little League Softball World Series is one of the centerpieces of our strategic plan, and, while we’re sad to delay these plans, we are excited to welcome more communities to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Greenville, North Carolina, in 2022.”

    As many local Little League programs work on returning to play following the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the decision allows for both Little League International and its 6,500 local leagues to take the time to strategically evaluate their needs for a successful 2021 season. Little League International will continue to focus on providing the resources and guidance for families and volunteers, to help navigate local Little League seasons throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as plan for the Little League International Tournament, where so many Little Leaguers dream of playing in a regional or World Series tournament.

    “Over the next year and a half, we are dedicated to providing the best guidance available, as we strategically evaluate and plan for all possible scenarios in 2021 and look forward to continuing our efforts to prepare for expansion and provide the once-in-a-lifetime experience to more children in 2022,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “With the celebration of the 75th Little League Baseball World Series now pushed back until 2022 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is only fitting that the decision to expand remains in coordination with that event, as we get ready to celebrate the next chapter of this iconic event.”

    Originally announced in August 2019, the decision was made to expand the number of teams at the Little League Baseball World Series from 16 to 20 and Little League Softball World Series from 10 to 12 with the goal of providing more children with the opportunity to experience the benefits of the World Series, both on and off the field, as well as the overall journey through the Little League International Tournament.

    Based on the postponement of the expansion, Little League International will continue to evaluate the timeline of its facility enhancements that are connected to the expansion in Williamsport. More information regarding the expansion, as it becomes available, will be communicated directly to local league officials and can be found on LittleLeague.org.

    Little League® Cancels 2020 World Series and Region Tournaments

    Little League® Cancels 2020 World Series and Region Tournaments

    Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Little League International has made the difficult and disappointing decision to cancel its World Series and Region Tournaments for first time in organization history; commits approximately $1.2 million in support to local leagues
    2020 MLB Little League Classic Presented by GEICO Also Canceled; Event Will Return in 2021
    After a thorough assessment of the impact the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has had on 6,500 community-based Little League® programs in 84 countries and based upon the direction of governmental and public health authorities, and in consultation with medical professionals and our Board of Directors, Little League International has made the difficult and disappointing decision to cancel its seven World Series tournaments and their respective regional qualifying events.

    “This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now, and with direction from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as the their qualifying regional tournaments, it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we’ve hosted them for nearly 75 years.”

    As we assessed the feasibility of including these tournament opportunities as part of that resumption of play, a number of factors went into the decision to cancel the World Series and Regional Tournaments, including:

    The inability to play qualifying tournaments in many of our U.S. and International regions, coupled with direction from federal officials regarding the complexity of international travel restrictions and immigration requirements.
    An indication from teams from around the globe that they will be unable to participate or travel to these tournaments.
    The testing and mitigation protocols that would need to be in place at these significant public events should an individual participating or attending an event be diagnosed with COVID-19.
    The cancellation includes the 82 regional qualifying tournaments and their respective seven World Series events:

    Little League Baseball – South Williamsport, Pa.
    Little League Softball® – Greenville, N.C.
    Intermediate (50/70) Baseball – Livermore, Calif.
    Junior League Baseball – Taylor, Mich.
    Junior League Softball – Kirkland, Wash.
    Senior League Baseball – Easley, S.C.
    Senior League Softball –Sussex County, Del.
    As 2021 was originally supposed to be the playing of the 75th Little League Baseball World Series, that celebration will now take place in 2022. More information about World Series locations and future dates can be found at LittleLeague.org.

    As a result of this decision, the 2020 MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO, originally scheduled for August 23 between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, has also been canceled. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have already committed to returning to Williamsport for the 2021 MLB Little League Classic next August.

    “Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart. We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus,” said Hugh E. Tanner, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman. “While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer, we are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021.”

    To assist the local Little League programs as they continue to assess their local operations, Little League International will be crediting all chartered programs with the affiliation fees paid for their chartered teams in 2020, which totals approximately $1.2 million in support to local leagues. These funds will be credited through Little League’s Data Center and be available for local leagues to use on current balances, future affiliation and insurance fees, tournament enrollment, and other Little League-related expenses.

    As each state and community will have different guidance for resuming organized youth sports, Little League International strongly encourages volunteers to confirm with their local and state health officials that it is safe to do so before resuming Little League activity after May 11. These playing opportunities could include not only regular season activities, but opportunities for local district, and, perhaps, state all-star tournament play to provide players, especially those moving up to a new age division in 2021, a tournament experience, if possible and safe.

    How to Re-Imagine the Player-Coach Dynamic

    How to Re-Imagine the Player-Coach Dynamic

    A Little League® graduate, father of a Little Leaguer®, and Minor Division softball coach in Virginia’s Spotsylvania Little League (SLL), Jimmy Hensel, Jr., has made a profound impression on his players and their parents by re-imagining the player-coach dynamic.

    As a young player, Mr. Hensel, 31, admitted being taught the “old school way.” Coaches were bombastic, practices were not designed for the players’ enjoyment, and surviving the drudgery of daily workouts was all part of the learning process. Such personal experience taught him that nothing positive can come from being made to feel inferior for making a mistake, or enduring persecution by a coach.

    During Mr. Hensel’s final Little League season he met Dan Horn. The player and coach made a connection that, over the past 18 years, has evolved beyond student and teacher to mentor and friend.

    “Dan has played such a huge role in my life,” said Mr. Hensel. “He showed me you can push and sweat, and still laugh and learn something.”

    Building on Mr. Horn’s teachings, Mr. Hensel believes it is vitally important to establish a healthy rapport and trust with his team. He makes a point of asking his players a lot of questions and encourages them to express what they think.

    “Sometimes as coaches we tell players things, but we fail to explain ‘the why’ to them,” said Mr. Hensel. “If the goal is for a player to improve by understanding what is going on, coaches need to ask a lot of questions and give the players the chance to offer feedback so they can find out the correct answer for themselves.”

    Mr. Hensel and team manager Catrina Scanlan were paired up this season, coaching the SLL’s Alabama Crimson Tide team.

    IT’S MY FIRM BELIEF THAT KIDS ARE MUCH SMARTER THAN WE GIVE THEM CREDIT FOR. OFFER A CHILD A LITTLE BIT OF KNOWLEDGE EVERY DAY, CHALLENGE THEM TO GIVE THEIR BEST EFFORT, AND LET THEM GROW FROM IT.

    – JIMMY HENSEL, JR., SOFTBALL COACH, SPOTSYLVANIA (VA.) LITTLE LEAGUE

    Both Mr. Hensel and Mrs. Scanlan have 10-year-old daughters on the team, but the duo also shares a refreshing coaching philosophy.

    “We strive to give the girls a different perspective,” said Mr. Hensel. “We agree that the game is about heart and passion. It’s our belief that an inspired soul is more valuable than any three talented gloves, and to reach the soul of a player, you need to be more devoted than the child.”

    Each day at practice, the 11 players on the Tide roster get to see high energy and respect from their coaches. Mr. Hensel is determined to be honest with each player, and in return, asks the team to, “persevere, give its best effort, and apply the lessons learned to real life.”

    “Too often players are given many pieces of the puzzle, but they are not able put the puzzle together to see the whole picture,” said Mr. Hensel. “We emphasize and explain the skills, rules, and roles, so that the players know the ‘what, why and how.’ I love seeing when a kid gets it, and does something in a game that they weren’t able to do yesterday… That’s beautiful, and truly rewarding.”

    The Tide’s approach has produced plenty of fun, personal improvement, prideful smiles, and wins. Just as significant, the parents have noticed. Recently, a parent of one of the Tide players wrote a letter to the Spotsylvania Little League’s Board of Directors, praising her child’s Little League experience.

    I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincerest admiration for this extremely passionate, genuine coach.

    Coach Jimmy (Mr. Hensel) was our coach last season and I could not have been more pleased when I found out we were on his team again this season.

    I truly appreciate his encouraging words and his profound knowledge of the game. His motivation and drive is infectious. He gets out on the field and works, runs and sweats right alongside each and every one of the girls on his team.

    Jimmy devotes his free time to providing additional coaching to any girl that is willing to put in the work. He has taught my daughter so much and I honestly commend the coach that he has been to her.

    We have been a part of the Spotsylvania Little League family for years and by far, he is the best coach we have had.

    Wendi Newcomer
    Mother of Madisen Newcomer
    Tide third baseman

    Mr. Hensel played Tee Ball through Senior League in East Orange County (Va.) Little League. The Little League ties also extended to his parents. His father, Jim, Sr., served as League President East Orange County Little League; and his mother, Linda was league secretary.

    “Integrity is what Little League is all about,” said Mr. Hensel.

    Time Management for Returning Coaches: The Benefits of Organizing Effective Practices

    Time Management for Returning Coaches: The Benefits of Organizing Effective Practices

    As a returning coach, your past experience provides you with a huge advantage in the area of time management. Even just one season under your belt gives you the basis for improving how you manage your baseball or softball season, how you manage your players’ time during practice, and how you can teach life lessons in time management to players of all ages. 

    A challenging first step toward improving time management is to find or make the time to sit still long enough to think about how you spend time. 

    Don’t Procrastinate

    Start with a 15-minute brainstorm, listing on a pad of paper in two columns what you consider effective uses of time in past seasons and what strikes you now as time wasted. 

    This is just the start, and those 15 minutes will show you the benefit of ending your procrastination, which makes it easier to habitually avoid procrastination and manage your time better this season. If you put off writing that plan, you will end up wasting time during practice as the season progresses. 

    That first 15-minute brainstorm – and the habit of avoiding procrastination – can trigger you to continue thinking intently about how you use time. You may reach for that pad again and again with new ideas on how to improve your efficiency. The planning that used to seem daunting will come to feel liberating instead. And, if you are ever tempted to backslide, remind yourself that “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 

    Establish Detailed Practice Plans

    Using that initial brainstorm, get into the habit of coming to each practice session your written plan with an allotted number of minutes per activity, players and their parents will see that you put time and forethought into their experience and that you value their time. That reinforces your leadership position and their willingness to follow. 

    Among the principles that inform a time-efficient practice plan: 

      • Minimal time standing in line waiting for a next rep.

      • Move players quickly, station to station.

      • Spread stations far enough apart that running station to station incorporates conditioning and competition so that nobody wastes time and gets bored running laps.

      • No long lectures. If you can’t explain a skill simply, players won’t learn it, anyway.

      • Lengthier talk about procedure, team culture or life lessons can happen while stretching at the start of practice, when the team naturally gathers in one place, players are not focusing on execution, and they can use the information you provide throughout the remainder of that practice.


    When players see you utilize a written schedule out each practice it helps them understand the importance of time management. You can emphasize that life lesson and improve your team’s on-field performance by explicitly getting them to use time wisely. As the season progresses, have them help you create those practice plans, and involve your players in implementing those plans and keeping the team on task. 

    And, don’t forget to add in some fun. You can have them earn 10 minutes of homerun derby at the end of practice by successfully completing each of five drills in two minutes less than the time allotted on your written schedule. Cultivating that positive approach to time management in Little League may help your players grow into adults who understand the importance of managing their own schedules, whether that’s a to-do list at work or a practice schedule when they become Little League coaches.