Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist Jim Murray famously wrote that Little League baseball is "a juvenile activity that makes delinquents out of adults," but that was no issue this season for a team in Southern California.
In the town of San Clemente, a team of 12- to 14-year-olds couldn't find any adults to be its coach. So two freshmen from the local high school, who could easily pass as members of the team, decided to volunteer for the job.
And as reported in The Orange County Register, the team went on to have a storybook season. It lost the first two games of the season, gradually improved and then capped the season by winning the district championship.
The coaches are Chris Puckett, 15, and Cameron Shelley, 14. Some players on the team are taller than Shelley, who stands at 5 feet.
"They still listen," Shelley told the Register. "None of them seem to goof off. They still respect me."
Brad Christian, whose son Max is the team's catcher, vouched for the coaches' skills, telling the Register: "My kid is playing the best baseball he ever has played. I was probably the biggest skeptic, the most vocal about 'I don't want my kid to be on this team.' (Now) I can't say enough good things about them. I think they are the best coaches my kid has ever had."
The team needed special permission from the league to allow Puckett and Shelley to be the coaches. The successful season helped Puckett make the point that "kids can coach if they know the game."
"I knew that me and Cameron could coach them up to a pretty high level of baseball," he told the Register, "even if we couldn't start off very good. The result speaks for itself."
-- For more photos of the team, check out this Orange County Register gallery.
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