3:30 a.m., May 7)
League celebrates 25th anniversary by recognizing dedicated volunteer
By Fred Sherwin
and minor hockey executive Charles Chamberlain received the Brian Kilrea
Award for coaching excellence at the 2009 Civic Appreciation Awards on Tuesday.
Over the past
25 years, Orleans Little League Baseball has ridden the highs and lows of
the sport and come out the other end with a dozen Canadian championships
to its credit and a sense of pride in having provided a summer pasttime
to more than 14,000 youth between the ages of 7 and 17.
The one person
who's been there every step of the way has been Carolyn Holmes who has served
in virtually every capacity on the OLLB executive except president.
Little League was first formed in 1984, Holmes was "volunteered"
to serve as secretary by the other executive members. She would go on to
serve as a convenor, manager and director.
Like many parents,
Holmes involvement was tied to her son who was among the original group
of 240 kids who registered with the fledgling Little League. Jason Holmes
played Little League ball right through until he graduated from high school.
He also did double duty as an umpire and both coached and umpired his mother's
Slow Pitch team.
After the strike
in 1994, he lost interest in the sport he once played as a kid and turned
his attention to other athletic endeavours. It wasn't until the birth of
his son Alexander, that Holmes love of the grand old game was reignited.
At the height
of the baseball craze in Canada when the Toronto Blue Jays were winnning
back-to-back World Series championships, Orleans Little League had over
700 players. For the past several years enrollment has hovered between 420
As things turned
out, he did such a good job in his twin role that he was elected president
prior to his second season and volunteered as a full fledged head coach.
exactly sure how it all happened. The first year I volunteered to help coach
and then the next year I was president," says Chamberlain, who received
the Brian Kilrea Award for coaching excellence at the 2009 Civic Appreciation
Awards on Tuesday.
took over the reigns of the GCGH, they had about eight teams in total. During
his tenure as president from 1998 to 2001, registration more than quadrupled.
Today, the league has over 40 teams.
down as president, Chamberlain continued to coach his daughter's team as
it moved through the ranks. He's also become involved with the Gloucester
Centre Minor Hockey Association thanks to his son Ian, who plays House League
hockey in the GCMHA.
But it was his
current intermediate girls team that nominated him for the award. Prior
to the start of the season the team didn't have a coach. Chamberlain's daughter
Amy had decided not to play this year, and he was looking forward to following
his son's career.
When the team
asked if he would coach them one more year, he found it impossible to say
no, especially in light of the fact that without a coach they wouldn't have
gratifying and humbling to know the girls nominated me. I guess I'm one
of the lucky ones who can create a bond with their team and have it last.
I've been coaching some of these girls for five years now," says Chamberlain.
The fact that
Brian Kilrea presented the award to Chamberlain made the event that much
great honour, especially receiving the award in the same year that Brian
is retiring from coaching. He's a legend and to receive an award named after
him is very special," says Chamberlain.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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