Category Archives: Self

About me

Michelle Jenkins

From: mjenkins@slocm.org
Subject: RE: Janet McCarthy
Date: January 27, 2017 at 9:11:21 PM PST
To: Kenny McCarthy

I’m no acolyte, Ken. But I’m not afraid to tell the truth. Now lose my email.

——— Original Message ———
Subject: Janet McCarthy
From: “Kenny McCarthy”
Date: 1/27/17 8:54 pm
To: mjenkins@slocm.org

Michelle,

Imagine my surprise when I read your Declaration in regards to case No.: 2:16-CV-07839 DSF (Ex).

You’re a Velie acolyte?

I remember welcoming you in my home after the untimely passing of Janet. I remember my family going to your house for dinner. I confided with you, believing you were a friend of the family.

And now I realize it was all a shame.

You should be ashamed.

Kenny McCarthy
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Mobile (805) 215-0075

I’m Back

IMG_0055.JPG

Been a long time since this site was up. Last Spring Alex asked me to take it down.

I now know that was shorthand for “she didn’t like me anymore”. I didn’t need to take my blog down. It was a mistake to listen to Alex.

I got lots to talk about. Stay tuned.

Ruminations

ruminations

One day in May 1994 I came home from my first day at Dick’s Sporting Goods, loosened my tie and opened a celebratory beer. It was early evening and the day’s sun was setting, sending rays of orange light onto my back deck. My wife was pregnant with our first child. We had settled into our 10-acre homestead the previous year. Life was good and it was as happy as an afternoon as I would ever have.

★★★★★

This morning I woke up in my bed, in a house that I didn’t own. It was chilly because we turn the thermostat off to save money. My phone beeped, alerting me to an email alert from my bank stating that my account balance had dropped below $100. I have no savings, having lost it all in my wife’s fight with cancer, her death and three subsequent years of unemployment. And I ask myself – “Well, how did I get here?” I have never been arrested. I am not an alcoholic. I smoked a little weed in college thirty years ago, haven’t touched it since. But I have committed one of the most basic sins in America. I had failed. I lost everything I worked for – the houses, cars, the 401k, motorcycles and vacations. All gone. And nearly my sanity. Yet I am not alone. Since 2008 over five million families lost their homes to foreclosure. Real wages have declined since the Reagan administration. Millions of people have stopped looking for work. In America the Walton family holds as much wealth as the bottom 40%. Worldwide, 85 people hold as much wealth as the bottom 50%. The top 1% continue to accumulate wealth, at the expense of the rest of us. But this isn’t a story about them. This is about me. My failure was all the harder because I had my dream job.

★★★★★

Back in 1994 Dick’s Sporting Goods had a vision. I was a part of it, and it was captivating. The eight years I spent there were exhilarating. The Company went through two rounds of re-capitalization, going through several periods of comp sales decreases. I struggled to keep the vendor community engaged. I learned how to engage and motivate our customers. I learned how to build an assortment, how to price & promote, how to market, how to launch a label, how to turn goods, how to maximize margin mix, how to develop product lines. We punched the chain out to 132 doors. I was managing a $70+ million division. I loved what I was doing. When the scooter fad hit in 2001 I jumped all over it. I picked up a quick three million dollars in sales. I killed my bonus plan that year. Because we were in a pre-IPO my GMM baked the scooter numbers into my plan for 2002. I vehemently argued with him, it was only a fad and thus not sustainable. He kept it in the plan. We go into 2002, the scooter business withered. Gone, empty, you couldn’t give the crap away. I managed our receipt flow, not getting caught with inventory. What else could you do? I was going to miss my plan by millions. I had always made my numbers. I was Buyer of the Year, Member of the President’s Buyer Council. For five days a week, eight years I left for work before dawn and returned home after dark. I was The Company Guy, a Salaryman. I was lucky to see my kids before they were tucked into bed on weekdays. I was worn down by the three-hour daily commutes, the 10-hour workdays, the weekend travel to stores every month, the relentless trade show and buying trips. I was missing a big part of my Girls growing up. My wife’s BPD wasn’t helping matters, she was starting to push my kids away from me. It had gotten out of my control, the long workdays, the fucked-up work/life balance, the unattainable plan. The dynamic that existed was that I was going to do the same job year after year, only do more of it and do it faster. My Dream Job became hell. I had to make a change.

★★★★★

It all started innocuously. I grew up not having any career aspirations, just coasted in high school. I had joined the Out Spoken Wheelmen, a local bike club and where I met Arni Nashbar. One day in May 1977 Arni offered me a job. My first paycheck was $14.00 – 7 hours @ $2.00/hour. I was riding a lot and getting some results. Work was fun – taking telephone orders and answering customer questions, orders to pick in the warehouse, mail orders to process, deliveries to be unloaded, shelves to be stocked, retail customers to be waited on, custom bikes to be built, frames to be prepped. I’d go in on Saturday mornings to catch up on the order backlog. But something was missing. I realized that there were better things than being a warehouse/retail clerk. I enrolled at Youngstown State University. No one in my family had attended college. I thought I wouldn’t be able to cut it, having just gotten by in high school. I worried how I was going to pay for tuition. One day I was over an engineer’s house. He was a professor at the university and rode a lot with the club. He was building wheels on the side for Bike Nashbar. I asked him if he could teach me how to build. I found out I was real good at it. And it helped put me through school. I spent the next six years working from 8:00 – 4:30, then going to classes from 5:40 until 9:30 every weekday. Five days a week, for six years. One night a week I would build wheels from 10:00 until 2 or 3 in the morning. Saturdays was all wheels, I’d build non-stop from 7:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night. Sundays became the only time I could ride. Running after hours was how I could kept in shape during the week. One dark evening while I was flying down a trail, I stepped into a hole and went flying. I broke both my arms trying to break the fall. It turned out to be, literally and figuratively, the luckiest break in my life. With both arms in a cast I couldn’t work in the warehouse. Arni sat me at desk to try some buying. It turned out I had a proclivity for it, this I started my career as a merchant. I graduated with Honors, earning a perfect 4.0 in my Finance major. I quit building wheels to focus on the Company and my new marriage. I began to drive it at work. Having learned how to capitalize and budget, I began to develop plans for sales, turns and margin and steered dollars into high-growth categories. One of the special projects I took on was designing a conveyor-based warehouse picking system and supervising the installation of the conveyors, gravity racks, pallet racking and shelving. When it came time to commit to ordering the fixtures I made an executive decision because my Boss wouldn’t commit. I nearly got fired over it. Karen, our Controller, saved my ass. All turned out well though, we made our deadline and moved into our new warehouse. That system is still in use today. I pushed the hard lines business to over $20 million dollars. I learned to put together a line of bikes, first in Japan, then into Taiwan and finally China. I travelled overseas regularly, developing and sourcing product. I built much of the content in the catalog. It was a lot of work but fun too. And I enjoyed the people I worked with. I put together a 5-year business plan for pre-built engineered wheels, years ahead of Mavic. It showed we would have made a profit by the second year of operation. Arni seemed OK with it but Jerry, the VP, nixed it. Jerry wanted his little brother to have the work. I was frustrated, at a dead end. It was the last straw for me. There was no room in the Company to move up, no room for my ideas. In the spring of 1994 I decided to look for another job. Two months afterwards I found the position at Dicks Sporting Goods.

★★★★★

Eight years of working at Dick’s burned me out. I took a sabbatical and backpacked the lower half of the Appalachian Trail. I returned, energized and ready for the next challenge. People told me that leaving your job before getting a new one was tantamount to career suicide. It seemed everyone in the industry loved me, so I didn’t give it a second thought. I started making some call, soon finding out no one was returning my calls. Panic. I sent out hundreds of Resumes. I’d spend hours on each cover letter making sure it matched the job requirements of the position. I logged every call I made, every email and letter I sent, every contact made. I called everyone I knew, asking if they knew anything open. I had telephone interviews with dozens of companies. I landed eleven interviews. Some of them went pretty well, so I thought. No one made an offer, after a year of searching. I was running out of savings. And I had a family to support.

★★★★★

My family business was a sleepy, little bait and tackle store. One day I had an epiphany. To develop a store concept, get some capitalization, and roll it out to more locations? So I decided to spend time on the family business. I repositioned the store as a premium Archery destination. I changed the merchandise mix to reflect our new demographic target. I remodeled the store and installed a modern POS system. The results were very encouraging. Sales nearly double in the first year, and were ramping up for another big gain the following year. Mom had been running the business under the guise of a sole proprietorship. I drafted up Articles of Incorporation for a LLC that allowed her to draw a monthly rental income off the real estate that was higher than her personal draw. We would be able to expense that out too. And I would have collateral to get bank financing for expansion. My store concept was working and I wanted to roll it out to more locations. I needed to get the LLC finalized. Mom wouldn’t sign the papers. She couldn’t find it in her to personally let go of the business. She had worked very hard her entire life and she couldn’t bear herself to sign the stock warrants over to me. I underestimated how hard this was for her. And I didn’t have the courage to help her confront those fears. Reality came crashing down. My dream of wanting to work for myself crumbled. I resigned myself to re-entering the job market. At the same time I was concerned about the quality of life, the lack of outdoor activities, the lousy weather, the political corruption of the Mafia in Youngstown, the lack of opportunity. There were a few places I wanted to live – Colorado, Seattle and the Central Coast of California were places I dreamed about. I researched companies that were located there and I picked up the phone.

★★★★★

Copeland Sports had a good reputation in the Sporting Goods as a premium merchant. I cold-called them to ask for a job, a long-shot but why not? I asked for their GMM and was transferred to her. I told her who I was, why I was calling and asked if “you can use someone like myself”. Long story short, several months later I negotiated a compensation package and began preparing for my family’s move. I was finally moving to California! We travelled across the country on Amtrak in a private sleeper cabin. It was a luxurious 3-day trip where the kids got to experience the size and beauty of our country. One time we were sitting in the viewing car with other passengers, gazing out at the Rocky Mountains, when Douglas suddenly pointed out the window and shouted “Cantaloupe! Cantaloupe!” There were no cantaloupes to be seen. He had spotted a herd of antelope. Everyone in the car laughed. Good times. The company had checked out well during my research. They had a great reputation within the vendor community. My vendors told me Copeland’s always paid on time. Their store concept looked good, putting seven distinct “stores” within one roof. My new office was in downtown San Luis Obispo, CA. The happiest place on earth, as Forbes Magazine would call it. After spending the first morning filling out routine paperwork, I sat down at my new desk and started to look into my areas. When I sat down with a pencil and paper and calculated the inventory turn, I came up with 2.18. I didn’t believe it. I ran it again on a cost basis. It was accurate. At the margins we were making, that turn meant the Company could not afford to replenish their inventory on a profitable basis. The run rate was unsustainable. When I got home that evening I remarked to my wife “I think I made a mistake”. That wasn’t the worst of it though. The Company was being run on an ancient Wang VX-1200 mainframe. It was stepping back in time twenty five years, to my Fortran days at YSU. They would generate reports and send the jobs to a spooler to be printed on 158-column green bar paper. The worst was seeing my colleagues spend hours a day transposing numbers from hard copies into Excel spreadsheets for analysis. No one there had thought of simply taking the txt files directly from the spooler, zapping the file with a text editor, and importing directly into a worksheet. Everyone’s mind exploded when I showed them that. The prior year the Company got an injection of $20 million from a VP firm based in New York City. With it they installed their guy at CEO, Joe Fernandez. He was a real piece. Expensed his manicures. Palatial office space with the buyers crammed into cubicles. An ego as large as Trump, a walking dictionary of corporate-speak. You know the type, but I’m digressing here. The company had spent all of the money the previous year buying inventory. The buyers went nuts, filling the stores up. None of it went into IT investment. Copeland’s had a great year selling the new receipts, posting impressive comp gains. When it came time to replenish, well, that’s where things got interesting. That buying binge masked a lot of terrible buying mistakes. Unsaleable inventory was accumulating in the stores. I had taken over a couple of divisions. The Golf business was a mix of 40,000+ SKUs. The Company’s policy was to print a full price ticket for each item, with an internally generated upc. It was retarded because the system had the capacity to map manufacturer UPCs into the register POS system, negating the need and expense of printing new stickers. But no one had implemented this. Less than 50 golf items had their manufacturer UPC scanned in! Bikes was worse. Goods would get rung out under the wrong code; i.e., I’d bring in an assortment of drivers across a size run per door. A customer would walk up to the cashier with a Calloway Big Bertha – medium flex, 9° loft, righthand. The cashier would manually enter it as a stiff, 10º righthand club because the Copeland’s sticker was mis-labeled, lost or un-readable. My Rebuyer would bring in more goods in accordance with the sell throughs. The store would end up with TWO stiff 10º righthand clubs and NO medium 9º righthand clubs. This nightmare played out like this with every item, every store, every department. The stores were what I called OB² – Over Bought and Out of Business. On my first trip to one of our Las Vegas stores I walked into an empty rack of BMX bikes. Zero on-hand, inventory showed 60+. Why didn’t anyone at the store call me? I pulled past audits but didn’t get anywhere – their last pre-fiscal inventory had the numbers showing, no one could tell me what happened to 60 bikes. The store and hardwoods manager maintained they never had those bikes. Yet no one bothered to pick up the phone and say “um, we have no BMX bikes here”. It just wasn’t part of their culture. No wonder the store wasn’t making plan. They didn’t have the right product allocated. The last straw for me was when I picked up the phone one day and Dennis, our VP of Store Operations, was on the other end going off on me. He was a real piece, the most sadistic manager I’ve ever run across in my career.It turned out that day the store he was in was out of business in swim goggles. The system showed hundreds in stock. He didn’t care, unleashing a profane tirade, saying it was my fault and how badly I failed him. Him. When your IT is so fucked up no, it’s not my problem. It’s Joe’s. We just completed reconciling a fiscal inventory. The overall shrink was a bit high at 4%. But the over/under was huge. I mean, just huge. My second Dream Job was falling apart. There was nothing I could do to help them anymore. I resigned a year into it to go work for VAS. Eighteen months after I left, Copeland’s declared Chapter 7.

★★★★★

VAS was a case study. It was the industry leader in action sports video. Staffed by some incredibly talented people, all with big hearts. We were carving out new territory and I was stoked to be a part of it. They had this interesting dynamic of operating underneath a VC investment group. The VCs were removed from the realities of our marketplace; e.g., wolves in a henhouse. Every few months the principal would randomly swoop in from his NYC home and completely disrupt our business strategy/platform. It was a Monday morning, November 5, 2007. Michael, the VC Managing Principal, had flown in from NYC the previous day. George, the President, called me into his office and fired me. George also fired the Creative Director and several other people. Then Michael fired George after he did Mike’s dirty work. None of us had no clue this was going to happen, no idea this was coming down. Not even George. Heck, we just closed October out, our first-ever million dollar month. We were doing great. I was told that there was a change in the business model and that I was no longer a part of that. Eighteen months after I was fired, VAS closed their doors.

★★★★★

I went home that day and told my wife the news. She went apeshit, taking the birdcage with my three finches in it and throwing it at me, in front of the kids. I walked out of the house, leaving the kids to gather up my three little finches. My Landlord lived only a few houses away so I went and told him the news and asked for an extension. He still expected the rent to be paid on time, as always. The next day I made another cold call, much like the one I made to Copeland’s in 2003. I called the owner of Cambria Bicycle Outfitter. CBO at one time was solid Top 5 in mail order. It had fallen on hard times. Marketing was non-existent, the stores were a mess, and the website was archaic. But there was still cachet to the brand. I sensed a turnaround opportunity. All it needed were some disciplines put into place. The owner liked my ideas and hired me. Two weeks later I started at CBO as their General Manager. When I started my tenure the company had just came of a $1.5 million decrease in sales the prior year. I turned it around and eked out a 10% sales increase the following year. Our monthly uniques increased by over 125%. We booked our first profit in three years. The IT infrastructure was a shambles. I migrated the internal network/ERP to a virtual space to improve performance and saved $1k a month. The owner wasn’t happy with this nor the pace of our turnaround. I pointed out that we missed sales due to out-of-stocks from our poor cash position. He didn’t want to invest any capital. He decided a merger with a San Diego-based competitor was the solution. I couldn’t see the value in the strategy but as a good soldier I had my orders and I complied. After six months and a significant outlay of our cash, we had nothing to show for our side; zip, nada, zilch. I told him that it wasn’t going to work. He didn’t want to hear it. We entered the winter of 2009/2010 in a precarious cash position. I had already cut payroll to the bone. We flipped into the new year and the owner let me go. It was January 15, 2010. I was now staring at unemployment, with a wife who just completed a cancer battle and three wonderful kids. The cancer fight wiped out all our savings. Things looked bleak that day. I went to the unemployment office and filed for employment for the very first time in my life. I had never been so humiliated and denigrated in my entire life. None of the staff appeared even remotely qualified for their jobs. They didn’t even care. And there I was, unemployed. I was in a daze, utterly and hopelessly disoriented. For the second time in my life I began a job search while unemployed. I had a nice, solid resume that showed constant forward progress in my career from buyer to merchandise director to general manager. But trust me, companies don’t hire people who happen to be unemployed. Little did I know what was in store for me six months later. That’s when I found my wife of 23 years dead in the shower.

★★★★★

What happens on a day like today, when it feels like you hit rock bottom? Well, you don’t bounce back up. You crawl back, fighting every step of the way. You take it one day at a time. Every day seems like there are setbacks. If there is one thing I learned from failure it’s this: You can waste your energy ruminating on things you can’t control. You can ruminate over what’s happening in the outside world. You can ruminate over what other people do, over what they think of you. You can ruminate over what happened in the past. But it will only lead to mental ruin. Human beings are unique creatures. Millions of years of evolution have blessed our minds with a special capacity, something no other animal has. Animals rely on instinct, not cognitive thinking, to survive. We alone can freely chose our what we do next, our actions. Only we can make things happen for ourselves. Only I can chose the lines I color in. That is the gift of Free Will. Choose wisely.

Four Year Anniversary

four-year-anniversary

It was four years ago to the day that I was fired from my duties as the General Manager of Cambria Bicycle Outfitters. The owner said I had failed to increase business fast enough.

When I started my tenure the company had just came of a $1.5 million decrease in sales the prior year. I turned it around and ecked out a 10% sales increase the following year. Our monthly uniques increased by over 125%. We booked our first profit in three years. The IT infrastructure was a shambles, so I migrated the internal network/ERP to a 3rd party hosted space. We improved performance and lowered operating costs by over $1k a month.

The owner wasn’t happy with this nor the pace of our turnaround. I pointed out that we missed sales due to out-of-stocks from our poor cash position. He didn’t want to invest any capital. He decided a merger with a San Diego-based competitor was the solution. I couldn’t see the value in the strategy but as a good soldier I had my orders and I complied. After six months and a significant outlay of our cash, we had nothing to show for our side; zip, nada, zilch. I told him that it wasn’t going to work. He didn’t want to hear it.

We entered the winter of 2009/2010 in a precarious cash position. I had already cut payroll to the bone. We flipped into the new year and the owner let me go.

I was now staring at unemployment, with a wife who just completed a cancer battle and three wonderful kids. The cancer fight wiped out all our savings. Things looked bleak that day.

Little did I know what was in store for me six months later.

Solo with Koala

solo-with koala

I did a big solo ride yesterday. 62 miles in 3 hours, lots of climbing. Nice, cool day in the lower 70s. Started from my house in Santa Margarita, climbed the grade into San Luis Obispo, headed out Highway 1 to Morro Bay, up along the coast to Cayucos, headed inland, up and over the Santa Lucia range, into Templeton then turning south and headed home.

This is the view from the top of Santa Rita Road, elevation 1,800′. The road is dirt on both sides. The descent was made treacherous from the mud from the prior day’s rain.

New Year’s Resolution

new-years-resolution

2012 was brutal. The confluence of raising two teenage daughters, Alex battling a severe medical condition, the fallout of not riding anywhere nearly enough and the continual financial struggles have taken it’s toll. The beginning of this New Year I made a resolution, one that I shared with Alex and the children.

“To care more about those people that truly matter, and to care less about what others think.”

It’s a simple resolution in principle, but difficult to achieve. My inspiration comes from these six quotes:

The secret to a successful life is hardly a secret; it requires you to be self-centered as all fuck, is all. So long as it’s not at the expense of others, make yourself the center of your universe. You only get to do this ONCE, so try to take as much stress out of the process as you can.
– Unknown –

You don’t get to tell me what to do ever again.
– Lester Burnham (American Beauty) –

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
– Steve Jobs –

He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
– Hunter S. Thompson –

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.
– William Gibson –

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
– Winston Churchill –

Is this selfish of me to think this way? I don’t think so. If I’m going to make the most of what time I have left that means I’m going to step on some people’s toes along the way. I’m looking out for #1. So be it.

Mt Whitney, Hell Yeah!

mt-whitney-hell-yeah

This is me a couple of days before my ascent of Mt Whitney in September of 1991. Mt Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States, topping out at 14,505 feet. Now you may think I did the climb in the traditional way, overnight carrying a pack with essentials. No, I did it differently. I bagged it in one day.

Janet and I were near the end of one of our Western vacations. We had flown out to LA and rented a Mustang GT convertible. We drove around Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Malibu, all the famous spots. It was fun. We headed on over to Death Valley and checked it out. We discovered some ghost towns along the way. But I was getting antsy. I was in the prime shape of my life, 32 years old and I hadn’t worked out for a week. Janet had no interest in doing anything physical. It was time for a run.

We had stopped in a little town called Lone Pine. It’s located at the eastern side of Mt. Whitney. Walking into the hotel I stopped for a moment and gazed at the mountain. At that second I knew I had to try it.

I woke up early next morning. I didn’t have any gear except my Patagonia baggies, a cotton tee-shirt, and my running shoes. We stopped at a 7-11 and got a liter of water and a bag of gorp on the drive over to the trailhead. I told Janet to meet me back in the lot at 5:00. There I was, alone at 7,300 feet elevation. Only 7,200 to go. All up.

The first few miles were not too steep. I was able to keep a good pace. Then it ramped up. I slowed to a fast walk on the steep sections. When it leveled out a bit, I ran it even if it was only 10 yards. My heart was working hard at 160 bpm. It seemed like I was going forever, going, going, going. When I crested the tree line the vista opened up and you could see the entire Sierra Nevada range. I get to one particularly tough section of scree. It was relentlessly steep and marked by continuous switchbacks. It was more like being on a stepper, or one of those steep Mayan pyramids. Only much higher. You couldn’t walk this section, much less run it. My water was long-gone but I was really pumped and determined to make it. I was damned if I was making a trip out west without doing something bold. I kept going hard.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I had lucked out with the weather. My goal was to top out by 3:00, tellling myself if I didn’t reach it then I was to turn around and head back down. I knew I didn’t want to be caught up there in the dark. Hours into the run I felt fatigue setting in. But my mind told my body “not today you’re not getting any break – we are going up this thing”. Time was running out. and I could see the summit was still a long way off. Suddenly, at around 13,000 feet, the trail leveled out at a ridge traverse. I got a second wind in that thin air and I stepped it up. I was running at 13,000+ feet, just insane. I passed a few backpackers, they stared at me incredulously in my baggy shorts and tee while they had their Polartec fleece and Gore-Tex jackets. I wonder what they really thought. Ha.

I only spent a few minutes on top. Off in the distance there was some weather coming in, and I started heading down. I broke into a pretty good run, watching where my feet were landing on every step. All those winters of trail running in Beaver Creek State Park paid off. I was scrambling down like a mountain goat. Absolutely flying. Just hitting the top points of the scree, high-siding the trail berms. I was in the zone. And I ran all the way down that mountain, 7,200’ drop in eleven miles.

My thighs filled up with blood, the quads were screaming. It was bliss. And when I reached the trailhead, it was the best feeling of my entire life. I had just done something truly daring, so daring in it’s audacity, that I was very happy. I went and got bold on a big thing, and I did it.

I got back to the trailhead at almost exactly 5:00. Janet was waiting in the parking lot. She had spent the day drinking in a cowboy bar. She was very intoxicated. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter because I did what I wanted to do, and it felt great.

Spring Training

spring-training

Opening Day is one month away. Today we start practice. Douglas is taking a big step up for a 10-year old. He’s moving up to the Majors division, playing with 11 and 12-year olds.

Last season was a breakthrough for Douglas. He was one of the starting pitchers in our rotation. There was only one other 9-year old in the AAA division who pitched as consistently as Douglas. Douglas pitched three solid innings in our Championship Game and helped us win. That’s a photo of him in that game.

In the Majors, he’s going to face better hitters. It’s not going to be easy for him to get strikeouts. As a hitter, he’s going to face bigger kids. They all throw hard, some throw 65mph. He’s going to have to work harder, harder than he’s ever done. Practice will be less play, and more work on skills and drills. Douglas can’t coast on his natural athletic ability anymore. This is the Majors.

This will be my third year managing Little League. I’ve finished in second and first place. I hope my players do well in the Majors. I have a good approach to developing ball players. Getting a group of boys to work as a team, to believe in themselves, to do their best, to play safe, to learn baseball skills, to being a good sport, takes a lot of my energy.

I’m eager to get all my new players together. I’m nervous about meeting their parents for the first time. Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much energy running this team. Then I think about what it means to Douglas and the rest of the boys. We wouldn’t want it any other way.