By Curtis Driscoll
Northwest Region Manager Charlie Thomsen remembers the moment when the magnitude of participating in the Little League® Baseball World Series hit him and the team. It was the night they got to Williamsport and were offered a tour of the grounds. For the team from Walla Walla, Wash., that was the culmination of an experience they had worked so hard for.
“We literally dropped our bags in the dorm room, and they said, ‘do we want to see the field?’ And we said, ‘heck yeah,’” said Mr. Thomsen.
A coach for the last eight years, Mr. Thomsen counts his time playing Little League as some of his best experiences in baseball. He played baseball at Walla Walla Community College and started coaching Little League for his son. All these years later, he and the team are in Williamsport, Pa., competing to be World Champions.
Mr. Thomsen and his assistant coaches, Eric Wood and Mark Welter, have enjoyed a labor of love throughout this magical summer. Before volunteering in Little League, Mr. Thomsen did not know Mr. Wood and Mr. Welter. The trio that would become the coaching staff for this year’s Northwest Region Champions, got to know each other through Little League.
Away from the ballfield, all three have wide-ranging professions. Mr. Thomsen works on wind turbines, Mr. Welter is a regional manager for an agriculture chemical retail outlet, and Mr. Wood is a Lieutenant for the Walla Walla fire department. Mr. Welter and Mr. Wood have aspirations of being regular-season managers, but their work responsibilities do not have the flexibility to accommodate the various administrative duties that come with managing a Little league team. However, both assistant coaches have loved being a part the Little League Baseball World Series.
“I would encourage anybody that is a baseball fan to come out and see it,” said Mr. Welter. “We watch it every year on TV, but to be here is phenomenal … It’s baseball heaven. I can’t imagine it getting any better than this.”
Mr. Thomsen selected Mr. Welter and Mr. Wood to be a part of his coaching staff after Thomsen was voted to be the Manager of the Walla Walla Little League International Tournament team by fellow managers in the league’s Major Division.
While the coaches love being a part of the World Series and are here to win, they know that they also are role models and mentors for their corps of Little Leaguers®.
“It’s about teaching them life lessons, good work ethic, respect and just being good stewards of the game,” said Mr. Wood. “So that’s probably the reason I enjoy it the most. Being a part of this team and these coaches have been nothing short of amazing.”
The Northwest Region champions (1-2) were eliminated from title contention with a 12-6 loss to the New England Region champions, Fairfield (Conn.) American Little League, in Game 20 of this year’s World Series. Intent on remain for the rest of the tournament, Mr. Thomsen said that the team may play a “friendship” game, or two, versus those international teams that also are no longer playing for a spot in the final weekend of games.