Seaford Little League volunteer given national honors for his service

By Tony E. Windsor

The City of Seaford recently honored a local educator and youth volunteer for his national prominence in Little League sports. Michael Smith, Seaford School District Director of Special Programs and Services, was the recipient of the 2008 Little League Volunteer of the Year by the Little League Baseball and Softball national organization in Williamsport, Pa. During a recent meeting of Seaford Mayor and Council, Vice-Mayor Rhea Shannon presented Smith, who is also President of Seaford's Nanticoke Little League, with a special proclamation on behalf of the Mayor, Council and citizens of the community. Shannon congratulated Smith for his national honors, but also commended him for his overall commitment to young people. In accepting the proclamation, Smith expressed appreciation to the city, but also took time to share his emotional appreciation to his family and the members of the Nanticoke Little League organization. "I appreciate the support of the Nanticoke Little Board, especially Robin Ruark and Sherry Smith. I want to also give special thanks to my family who has been supportive of me while I have given hundreds of hours of volunteer service. What I do is all about them." Smith, who has volunteered with Nanticoke Little League for the past 11 years, received his national honors during the 62nd Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in August. According to the National Little League organization, the Little League Volunteer of the Year award recognizes the selfless efforts of more than one million volunteers at the grass-roots level of the Little League program. "To his credit, Mr. Smith has displayed a tireless commitment to the Nanticoke Little League and Delaware District 3," the corporate office said. "Mike is one of the most eager volunteers in our district," Martin Donovan, Delaware District 3 Administrator, said. "The best part of this award is that the people who nominated Mike were people that served on the Nanticoke Little Leagues Board of Directors, parents of players in Nanticoke Little League and people from Delaware District 3 staff who have worked with him. I think that says a lot about Mike as a person and fellow volunteer." Smith said he feels the national recognition is a great way to bring attention to the local efforts of the Nanticoke Little League.

"I've spent a lot of years as a volunteer in Nanticoke Little League and this is my second year as league president," Smith said. "I volunteer because of the children, so when I found out I was going to receive this award, I was in awe. Personally, I am happy that the efforts of the volunteers in our league are being recognized by this award." In recent years, Smith also helped develop plans for two new fields in Seaford, including one that was dedicated earlier this year to mark the 50th anniversary of Nanticoke Little League. Smith has four children playing in Nanticoke Little League. He is also actively involved during tournament season, serving as the Delaware District 3 Minor and Major Division Softball tournament director, and volunteering at the Senior League Softball World Series, in Lower Sussex, Del. "Around 99 percent of the volunteers in our league have children playing in the league, so I try to remind them to be as enthusiastic now as they were when they're child was five and in their first season of Tee Ball," Smith said. "No matter at what level, or how much time a person puts in, being a volunteer means being involved and helping out. The little things that volunteers do, add up to the whole of providing a great league for the kids." The Little League Volunteer of the Year Award, established in 1989, was designed to provide local leagues an opportunity to honor a deserving individual. To the national organization of Little League, the "Volunteer of the Year" award is considered the most important and visible of the Little League Baseball and Softball award programs. Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball said receiving the national honors is no minor accomplishment. "Being a Little League volunteer can be many things, but the common tie is the willingness to get involved and give freely of one's time without expecting even a 'thank you,'" Keener said. "To take on such an array of responsibilities is certainly admirable and testament to Mr. Smith's belief in the Nanticoke Little League, and the other leagues in Delaware's District 3. Such effort on behalf of the children and his league make him worthy of this recognition and a well-deserving recipient of the Little League Volunteer of the Year Award."

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