With helmets and hats hung low, a Little League team from Cumberland, Rhode Island, gathered to hear the words of their coach after a heartbreaking loss to Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West in the Little League World Series Monday.
Cumberland scored five runs in the bottom of the third to take a 7-6 lead, but couldn’t score in the last two innings and in the end was eliminated from the tournament.
Despite their loss, Coach Dave Belisle’s touching words on the infield after the game are keeping the team in the limelight a little bit longer.
“Heads up high. Heads up high,” Belisle gently ordered of his team, saying he needed to see their eyes as he delivered this message to them.
“There’s no disappointment, OK, in your effort, OK, in the whole tournament, in the whole season. It’s been an incredible journey,” Belisle said.
“We fought. Look at the score, 8-7, 12-10 in hits. It came to the last out; we didn’t quit,” Belisle said. “That’s us. Boys, that’s us!
“Listen, the only reason why I’ll probably end up shedding a tear is because this is the last time I’m going to end up coaching you guys. But I’m going to bring back with me … something that no other team can provide but you guys, and that’s pride,” he said. “You’re going to take back for the rest of your life what you provided for a town in Cumberland. You had the whole place jumpin’. Right? You had the whole state jumpin’. You had New England jumpin’. You had ESPN jumpin’. Ok?
“Because wanna know why? They like fighters. They like sportsmen. They like guys who don’t quit. They like guys who play the game the right way. Ok? We got down to the nitty gritty. We’re one of the best teams in the world.”
“I love you guys. I’m gonna love you forever. You’ve given me the most precious moment of my athletic and coaching career,” Belisle said. “So for the last time, we’re going to try to suck it up and we’re going to yell Americans, OK? 1-2-3.”
“Americans!” they yelled.
Watch the whole of Belisle’s touching speech that had all the boys in tears at the end:
The Providence Journal reported that Little League International’s President and CEO called Belisle “one of the finest examples of a Little League coach I’ve ever seen,” Monday after the team’s loss.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.