CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — Family, friends, and fans are not the only ones rallying behind the Coventry Little League team as they represent New England in the Little League World Series.
Cumberland Little League Coach David Belisle was in the booth when Coventry beat the team from Pittsfield, Massachusetts to win the New England Region championship Sunday.
“I had to be impartial, but my heart was for Rhode Island,” Belisle said.
Belisle is no stranger to Williamsport. He’s brought a team there twice – once in 2011 and another in 2014. It was during that last appearance Belisle became a national name when his consolation speech after the team’s loss went viral.
“I want a big hug, I want everyone to come in for one big hug, one big hug, one big hug, then we are going to go celebrate,” Belisle said in the speech.
Belisle said Williamsport is considered the “Disneyland for Little Leaguers,” with a baseball academy located in the town and the chance to meet players from around the world.
“The crowds are enormous, but they’ll treat you like professionals,” Belisle explained. “They will ask for your autograph, which is pretty amazing, so these kids will feel like a million bucks.”
CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE: Coventry in the Little League World Series »
“They get equipment, free equipment that is donated by sponsors,” Belisle added. “We are talking new bats, new bags, then they get their credentials with their picture on them, then they will go do some little fun things, like commercials for television.”
Since all of the excitement and attention can come with pressure, Belisle said it’s important the Little Leaguers have fun throughout the experience.
“My advice to them is keep smiling, just enjoy the whole moment,” he said. “I think this is gravy now, okay, you are playing against the best in the world, I mean you’ve prepared everything you can prepare to get your team ready, but I think more importantly enjoy the moment.”
The team’s first game will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. against Houston.