Tuesday, June 5, 2018

North Venice Little League - A Venice Family Tradition

The North Venice Little League is a whole community that I didn't really know anything about until my little friend Quinn started playing baseball up there a few years ago. A tradition for over 50 years, NVLL provides a home for nearly 500 kids to learn baseball and softball, while making friends for life.

I went to one of Quinn's games early in the season, and it was pretty Bad News Bears (he's 9). I went to their CHAMPIONSHIP game on Sunday, and it was like a whole new team. The amount of practice and work that had gone down during the season was obvious (plus my friend, Shane, Quinn's dad, was almost always at a baseball practice) in their new super athletic prowess. Like, wow.

The A's would lose their last game to the Angels in a nail-biter that was only decided in the very last inning, and though the kids were upset, they learned the most important thing about youth sports, which is to always have fun while doing your best. They were soon shrieking with happiness, soaking each other with water pistols at the annual picnic that happened on Sunday right after their game.

Again, WOW. The vast fields and lawn were filled with hundreds of Venice (and adjacent) families, with pot luck picnic spreads and colorful tents spread out as far as the eye could see. It's a beautiful vista from up there, all the way to the ocean and mountains, and it was a glorious day for a picnic.

The teams all had award ceremonies, where the kids heard speeches from their coaches about themselves in a long series of touching moments illustrating their hard work and character. I especially loved that the A's gave their MVP award to the lone little girl on the team, their excellent shortstop, Lill. Awesome.

These families are so dedicated to their kids and the teams, it's really touching to witness - while creating skills and fundamental lessons that they will carry with them throughout their lives. I also learned about the importance of the "Team Mother", a crucial element to making it all work. She organizes just about everything apart from the coaching - and they are all volunteer positions. My friend Ashley is the quintessential Team Mother, and it was a delight to see her receive her credit where it is so richly due.

Ashley's son, Cash, is now moving on from NVLL to Venice High School, well prepared both for high school sports and life from having spent his formative years participating in this wonderful youth baseball program. The parents are all friends, the kids are all friends, and it's all another way to build the traditions and community that keep Venice strong and unique as a whole.

I had a grand old time enjoying America's pastime on a sunny day (that I still feel burned into my shoulders today), where we could all take a break from the world's craziness for a while, and just enjoy baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and I'm sure someone drove a Chevrolet.

Congratulations to all the teams and families of North Venice Little League on a fantastic season, and on keeping a proud Venice tradition so vital and strong. And to Quinn for being named an All Star! Take me out to the ball game, for real!

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