Little League is 100% powered by volunteers and Issaquah Little League has some very special ones. Each year we vote on the volunteers of the year and this year we have three special people to recognize.
Softball Volunteer of the Year - 2023: Jeff Baker
Jeff Baker shows what true dedication and sportsmanship are all about. He has been a softball coach in ILL 8 years, contributing to the growth and happiness of countless softball players. This year he served as manager for the Majors Cougars, and during the first week of the season, his daughter suffered a season ending injury. However, that setback didn’t stop Jeff and his enthusiasm from continuing to coach and inspire the rest of his team. He graciously worked for and supported them the entire season, even when most days his daughter wasn’t even there. He arranged many additional practices and incorporated activities to make learning skills fun, like sliding practice on the slip and slide, water balloon tosses, and bringing popsicles or pizzas for team building. He teaches his players not just the fundamentals of the game, but also encourages them to have fun and to develop a love of the game. Even when the game isn’t going their way, coach Jeff finds the positive and focuses on growth the team has made. He always has a smile on his face and has a genuine, heartfelt enthusiasm for coaching softball. He has unselfishly given back to the ILL community in so many ways this year. Jeff embodies the mission of Little League and shows why he is so deserving of this year’s volunteer coach of the year!
Baseball Volunteer of the Year - 2023: Rob Stepan
Rob has volunteered with little league since 2017. He has coached 5 teams during this time, including a year he coached a coast and a majors team. What makes Rob a great coach is that he wants to give each player the chance to be the best player he can be. He spends time planning outside of practices and games to maximize the experience for the players, thinking through how to best run practice, and how to move the kids around on the field during games. Parents have come up to me many years in a row, saying how much they like having Rob as their coach as he moves the kids around and gives all kids the chance to play different positions and improve their skills, this is the true reason for Little League. Rob is a great coach, and board member, but what really separates him is the amount of time he spends doing the invisible work to make sure Little League runs smoothly. Whether it is spending hours in the dusty storage unit sorting gear, or spending entire afternoons maintaining the fields at Dodd, we all have come to rely on his efforts, even if we don’t know who is doing them. Signs are hung up, netting is fixed, turf is maintained in a large part to his work. The new swing kids are enjoying, Rob put that up. Got a bird stuck in the fence? Call Rob. Scoreboard doesn’t work. Ask Rob. We joke about how Rob is always busy separating the recycling and trash, but who else is making sure the trash gets to the proper place? Issaquah Little League has benefited greatly from the countless hours that Rob has volunteered, and a large group of kids enjoy baseball whether they continue to play, or just have fond memories of their time in Little League thanks to Coach Rob.
Board Member of the Year - 2023: Greg Lipnicky
The amount of work and personal time Greg has put in this year as the UIC (Umpire-in-Chief) is impressive and appreciated, and should be celebrated and recognized. From scheduling at least two umps a game, sometimes with only a week's notice or less, to figuring out the website, to making sure the umps get paid, Greg has worked so hard to make the umping system for ILL work. The organization and time it takes to manage scheduling the umpires for all the divisions of baseball and softball for our community is no small feat. Giving 100% of his own time to make sure that our players can have present and trained umps at their games is necessary to make the league successful. Additionally, he also has taught the older kids who sign up to be umpires (often their first real job!) the values of commitment, opportunity, teamwork and hard work. Greg has been responsive to text messages and emails, even in off hours. Always available and approachable, he has been key to making this season successful for our players.