Sunshine, hot dogs, snow cones, and peanuts, along with shouting parents and home run cheers. All set the stage for opening day of the Treasure Coast Athletic Association baseball and softball season. But it is the sign posted on the side of the bleachers that remains on my mind.
As the words sunk in, I chuckled at their almost insultingly obvious message. Although if the past repeats itself, these words will likely be a necessary reminder as the season progresses and the championship game draws closer — in fact, bold letters with exclamation points may be required.
TCAA President Mike Cusimano hopes the sign, and more importantly how it’s exemplified through the actions and attitudes of coaches and embodied in its players, set the tone for the seven-year old league.
“It’s not about wins and losses in a game, this league is about building character, accountability, teamwork, and time management. It’s about respecting family, leaders, and peers, not only at a ball field, but at home and school every day,” Cusimano explained.
As a spectator through the years, I have seen for myself how his words are lived out on the playing field. One of my favorite memories occurred after a game, when the players and coaches circled up at the pitcher’s mound and one of the players said a prayer that had been passed down through the years. “Although we battle on these fields each and every game, once we leave these fences, we are always brothers and sisters in Christ and here to support one another through all our endeavors in life,” said softball player Jess Cusimano.
As they exited the field, the players extended their gratitude to the umpires with handshakes, then approached the fence to thank their parents for the sacrifices they made for enabling them to be a part of the program.
Every game reminds me of how thankful I am for leaders like Mike who understand what’s most important in life and who are outstanding role models for our youth. I would know, because this passionate coach and league president is my brother.
Thank you, Mike, for all you do for players, parents, coaches, strangers, and especially family. May there be more leagues all over the country like the one you started. You’ve knocked this one out of the ballpark!
On Feb. 27, League President Mike Cusimano kicked off opening day of the TCAA season. Over 340 youth are involved in the program.