After a heartbreaking one-run loss in the Little League World Series on Monday night, Rhode Island coach Dave Belisle delivered an inspiring speech reminding the players that their journey was about a lot more than the scoreboard.
ESPN cameras captured Belisle in the outfield with his Cumberland American team following an 8-7 loss in Williamsport, Pa., that ended a thrilling run that captivated their home state. He huddled the team together and asked everyone to hold their heads up high and look him in the eyes as several players tried to fight back tears.
"There's no disappointment in your effort,'' he said. "In the whole tournament, in the whole season, it's been an incredible journey. Look at the score: 8-7, 12-10 in hits. It came to the last out. We didn't quit.
"That's us! Boys, that's us. The only reason why I'll probably end up shedding a tear is because this is the last time I'm going to end up coaching you guys. But I'm going to bring back with me ... and you guys are going to bring back something that no other team can provide but you guys, and that's pride."
He then reminded them of the excitement they provided to their hometown of Cumberland, R.I., and the entire state with their run to Williamsport as the New England Regional champions.
"You had the whole place jumping,'' he said. "You had the whole state jumping. You had New England jumping. You had ESPN jumping. Because you want to know why? They like fighters. They like sportsmen. They like guys that don't quit. They like guys that play the right way.
"We got down to the nitty-gritty. We're one of the best teams in the world. Think about that for a second — the world!"
Belisle then grew emotional when he had the team gather together for a group hug.
"I love you guys,'' he said. "I'm going to love you forever. You've given me the most precious moment of my athletic and coaching career, and I've been coaching a long time. I'm getting to be an old man, I need memories like this, I need kids like this. You're all my boys. You're the boys of summer."
He then had the team put their hands in one last time and chant, "One, two, three, Americans!"