Cole Daniels has had a summer to rival any he could have imagined.
On Saturday, the Montesano Little Leaguer received the 2014 Little League Good Sport of the Year Award at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and was able to throw out the first pitch before the Little League World Series playoff game between South Korea and Japan.
“It was really cool,” Daniels said. “There were a bunch of fans, and I got to throw it to the Japanese catcher. It was just cool being in front of those fans.”
Daniels has always dreamed of being able to go to Williamsport, and he found out earlier this summer that his dream would come true as he would be given the honor, which is only awarded to one individual each year out of thousands who are nomintated. The Good Sport Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated superior qualities of sportsmanship, leadership, a committment to teamwork and a desire to excel.
Daniels has been a hard worker on the field as a shortstop for the Montesano 11-12 all-star team this past season, but he has left a bigger impression on his coaches and teachers by what he has done off the field, from helping to take out garbage after a baseball game to sitting next to students that may need a friend at school.
The 12-year-old was recognized at a breakfast on Aug. 21 where he made a speech that impressed all of those in attendance including ESPN Broadcaster Karl Ravech, who took the microphone after Daniels saying “Cole Daniels, the next MLB commissioner.”
The dream summer began back in July, when Daniels got to attend the Russell Wilson Passing Academy and meet the Seattle Seahawk quarterback in person. On Aug. 6, he was invited to throw out the first pitch in front of family and friends at a Seattle Mariners game, where he met reliever Dominic Leone and was sent a bat from his favorite player, Kyle Seager.
As part of the family vacation surrounding the trip to Williamsport, Daniels attended a Washington Nationals game, took in a Baltimore Orioles game and visited other sites, from the Washington Monument to Gettysburg.
“I think he is still trying to get his arms around the whole summer,” said Cole’s mother, Kellie. “It has just been incredible.”
While he has enjoyed every minute of the summer so far, the crowning jewel was being part of the Little League World Series. Even when he was in Williamsport, Daniels met a group of individuals few will ever meet.
“We got to meet the boys of summer, the guys who won the first world series in 1939,” Daniels said. “I got to meet six of them and it was really cool.”
After winning the Good Sport Award, Daniels’ name will now be forever enshrined with the names of the first boys of summer as part of Little League Museum in Williamsport.
“I think it is an honor, but also a responsibility,” Daniels said in a press release. “It’s important how you act on and off the field. Kids notice, parents notice, teammates note. Having a good attitude is important. Sometimes kids can be more of an influence than even coaches, so I feel it is my job to be a role model to the younger kids in Little League if I can. I had a kid ask me if he could wear my number next year. That was pretty awesome.”
Daniels approached every part of the week spent around the festivities of the Little League World Series with youthful exuberance, but also with poise beyond his years.
“He did great this week,” Kellie Daniels said on Tuesday. “They rolled out the red carpet for Cole. I think Corey (Cole’s father) and I watched him grow up in the last week. He was really poised and very humble. He was just a great representative for Montesano Little League. We couldn’t have been prouder. Here is our son, out among all of these players from all over the world, and he is being recognized for courage and attitude and all of the good things that sportsmanship is supposed to bring.”