Local businessman and community leader Gerry Kirkconnell was surprised to hear his name called at a recent Cayman Islands Little League reunion event where he was watching kids play a spirited game of baseball.
The person calling his name was J.C. Calhoun and the reason for the interruption was to present Kirkconnell with the George Rivers Award, a long-standing tradition of recognising Little League volunteers that has recently been revived, organisers said in a press release.
The George Rivers Award was created to honour dedicated, long-serving volunteers who wear a variety of hats to make the programme run smoothly. Rivers himself was a committed coach, umpire, chauffeur and more. All four of his children earned Little League ‘Sportsmanship’ awards, a character trait that was fostered at home. He died suddenly several years ago as a result of a heart attack.
Kirkconnell’s relationship with Little League began almost from the organisation’s inception. His four sons and most of their friends played the game while he coached; some still play in the co-ed softball league today. He also sponsored teams during those years and continues to do so.
According to the release, Kirkconnell “was instrumental in helping to develop new fundraising revenue streams for the organisation such as the Little League Golf Tournament, which his company, Kirk Freeport, sponsored with one of its brands, Rolex, and which became one of the most anticipated annual charity golf scrambles. The Little League auction was another idea of his and he was one of the most generous donors of items over the years”.
Upon accepting the award, Kirkconnell commented on how much his family had enjoyed the Little League programme over the years, how much his kids had gotten out of it, and especially how much the behavioural principles being taught in the programme were needed in Cayman. He also encouraged the alumni to get out and volunteer to coach the next generation and pass on what they have learned through Little League, emphasising how the organisation builds community through its programmes.
Past recipients of the George Rivers Award are Jeremy Rice (2011), Pam Parsons (2010), J.C. Calhoun (2009), Jim Parham (2008), Minnie Giddings (2007), Donnie Ebanks (2003), Robbie and Paula Cribb (2002), Rod and Penny McDowall (2001), Kevin and Robin Hartmann (2000), Robert and Jeanette Totten (1999) and Sara Mackay (1998).
For more information about Cayman Islands Little League, email [email protected] or call 916‑5643.