By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Chula Vista Park View
“It was every adjective you can imagine: a cliché, a dream come true, once in a lifetime — take your pick for anything amazing that happens to anybody.”
As he describes what it was like to coach the Park View Little League All-Stars of Chula Vista to a Little League World Series Championship last August, Ric Ramirez is still on cloud nine.
“I put my heart and soul into this, because there was something special with this group,” says Ramirez. His 13-year-old son Luke plays on the team, consisting of players attending from throughout the Chula Vista community.
Eyes from around the world were glued to TV sets during the final game, when the “Blue Bombers” from Chula Vista rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third inning, defeating Taoyuan, Taiwan, 6-3 in South Williamsport, Pa. The come-from-behind victory took place before a crowd of 32,400 that included Vice President Joe Biden.
Under the guidance of Coach Ramirez and manager Oscar Castro, the Blue Bombers became the first winning team from California since Sean Burroughs, former Padres third baseman, led Long Beach to consecutive championships in 1992 and 1993. The Blue Bombers also set a Little League World Series record for home runs, although none were hit during the game that clinched the championship.
“My dad preaches about trying to hit line drives, not home runs,” says Luke Ramirez. “It paid off. He’s a great coach. I’m his son, but he treats everyone like his own kid and took good care of us. I had no special treatment being his son.”
Ramirez, a member of Chula Vista Educators and a fifth-grade teacher at Myrtle Finney Elementary School in San Diego, devoted three to four hours a day, four days a week, to coaching the 12 youngsters, with his love of the game the only compensation. The team plays year-round and is constantly on the road, which means there’s rarely a break from practice and fundraising. But the effort paid off: Players kept their eye on the ball, so to speak, when it came to staying motivated.
“They wanted to play and they wanted to put in the work,” says Ramirez. “When we made the World Series, we all felt a lot of gratification for the hard work that was done. And once the boys were there, they were basically living a dream and trying to see how far they could take it.”
Prior to the World Series in Pennsylvania, the team competed in playoffs in San Bernardino for two weeks. Always the teacher, Ramirez took it upon himself to make sure players kept up with their school work and homework during their month away, since school was already in session back home. His classroom management skills also came in handy when behavior issues arose.
The world championship title and the parade in downtown Chula Vista were wonderful, says Ramirez, but the real prize is what the boys learned about life — and about themselves — from this experience. They learned the importance of staying calm, focused and disciplined, even when they stood in the spotlight of international attention.
“They learned how to approach adversity, because they were down — basically losing — and then bounced back. They stayed in the game and never gave up. The success they had is something they will be able to compare to all other tasks. They have learned what it really takes to be successful.”
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