The Little League Volunteer Pledge reads in part, “I will teach all children to play fair and do their best… I will praise a good effort despite the outcome of the game.” One Kingston Baseball Association (KBA) volunteer who embodies this pledge is Steve Vallier.
Vallier, who has been an invaluable contributor to Kingston’s baseball community for over 40 years, was awarded the first-ever KBA “Doug Jefferies Award” at the association’s year-end house league tournament, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2022.
KBA President Tori Boshart explained that the award is named for the recently retired sports broadcaster, Doug Jeffries, in recognition of his contributions to the KBA and the greater Kingston community.
“Throughout his career, Doug has shown tireless support of local sports and the young people who play them. The KBA has benefited greatly from the awareness he has provided our local athletes as well as our organization over the years,” she said.
Boshart said that this award will be “given annually to a deserving individual in recognition of their exceptional contributions and support to our organization and the Kingston community at large” and that “winners of this award demonstrate dedication, leadership, and consistent promotion of minor baseball in Kingston, either through being involved as an executive member, a coach, umpire, sponsor, player, or volunteer.”
She recounted how inspiring stories about Vallier have poured in since the call for nominations for the award in July.
“Ever since his toddler days, Steve has been involved with minor baseball in Kingston in some way or another,” said Boshart. “It’s something he did after being inspired by his father and many others that shaped him not only as a ball player, but as a person. And now Steve is the one inspiring our young baseball players.”
Among the kids, Vallier is known for his “Steve-isms” — funny sayings that inspire players with a slapstick absurdity. “If it doesn’t hit leather, it’s got to hit meat!” was one such witticism proudly chanted by Vallier’s Kingston Colts U12 Major rep team at the award ceremony. As well, they relayed that Vallier can often be heard invoking the “baseball gods.”
“Steve is a humble, devoted, and hard-working family man who, for decades, alongside his wife Carol, has taken on several leadership roles within our Association, and whenever there is anything special going on, Steve is the first to offer any help required,” said Boshart. “Not only has our house league program thrived under Steve’s guidance, but he has also been instrumental in helping our Colts program become a gold standard for not only winning provincial titles, but moving players on to the next level and shaping young people in whatever… they do after playing minor ball.”
Boshart thanked both Vallier and his wife, Carol, saying, “The KBA is a strong association with many volunteers, coaches, and players who owe so much to both Steve and Carol Vallier for laying the ground rules [and] pushing us to create a safe space for our young ball players to learn.”
Vallier, ever humble, was clearly moved by the award, but joked, “If I had known this was happening, I wouldn’t have come,” as he rose from his seat as official scorekeeper and announcer to accept the plaque.
According to the Little League Baseball and Softball website, Little League Worldwide is the world’s largest organized youth sports program with millions of players and more than one million adult volunteers. Little League was first chartered in Canada in 1951 and was the first International Little League charter ever granted.
More than 35,000 youth in Canada are part of Little League Canada and play baseball, softball, and challenger baseball during the spring and summer.
On its website, Little League Canada describes how its volunteers “give their time to provide a healthy and wholesome, family-oriented activity for the children of their community,” pointing out that Little League Baseball Canada has only two employees; the managers, coaches, league administrators, etc. are all volunteers from the community.
For over 74 years, it has been the KBA’s objective, as noted in its mission statement, “to provide an inclusive environment for youth… to play baseball safely and soundly, to learn the rudiments of the game from coaches, managers and supervisory personnel who have the desire to foster and maintain interest in baseball and to inspire a friendly, healthy competitive spirit that will encourage the players to be strong [teammates] and to always do their best.”
While house league play has now ended, the Kingston Colts rep teams, including Vallier’s Little League Majors, continue to play into September this season.