By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – During the day Jim LeMay works for EMC Corporation. After work, he can be found coaching youth softball behind the Beal Early Childhood Center in Shrewsbury – something he has been doing for the past 20-plus years.
LeMay, 50, grew up in Worcester where he played football and baseball for Doherty Memorial High School. He went on to play football at Worcester State University. It is there, while working toward a degree in business administration that LeMay began coaching a boys” Babe Ruth team and his coaching legacy began.
LeMay moved to Shrewsbury in 1992 with his wife Linda where, together, they have raised five children: Kristen (25), Paul (24), Kayla (22), Jeff (18) and Erin (17). Kristin coaches softball at Saint Peter Marian High School in Worcester.
“When we moved to Shrewsbury, our children were involved with youth sports in town and I felt the urge to jump in and help where I could,” said LeMay. “I did so because I have always been someone who enjoys teaching and working with young children.”
Over the years, LeMay coached many of the teams his children played on – alternating between them – coaching one of the girls” teams in the fall and a son's team in the spring.
Together with assistant coach Tom Berg, LeMay is currently coaching a team of 12 girls (under the age of 8) in the Shrewsbury Little League Rookie Division. Helping as well are high school student Emma Lacasse and Erin LeMay. The team calls itself the “Red Diamonds.”
For LeMay, the lessons he hopes to teach the youngsters reach far beyond the softball field.
“First and foremost,” he said, “is to always love the game.?The game will teach you so much about yourself – your strengths and weaknesses.?Next would be to always be a good teammate, no matter what you can and cannot accomplish on the field skill-wise, you can always be a good teammate.?The process of learning a physical skill in all sports transfers to real life, whether it be at school, at work or in relationships.”
Team mother Beth Burke referred to LeMay as a “town hero.” Her daughter, Olivia, has flourished on the team, she said, thanks to LeMay's coaching.
“Olivia can be shy and a bit awkward around new situations and people.?Jim made sure she was pulled in and a part of the team immediately. Maybe it is because he has been doing this for a long time, but he is able to size the girls up quickly and then coaches them in the manner that works for them individually,” Burke said. “Jim gives these kids encouragement, real praise and a sense of accomplishment.?He has an easy manner that allows for the girls to act silly, but they are expected to try hard and practice.”
“Jim's love for the sport is contagious,” she added.?”He is one of the most patient people I know.? He uses the time with the girls to teach them the game rules, skills and how to be a part of a team – all with a positive, easy manner.?Jim is a throwback to another time.”
LeMay plans to continue coach for as long as he can.
“I love coaching and working with young children, helping them understand the sport or the skill,” he said. It is something that you constantly have to work at personally and evolve what you are teaching and how you are teaching it.?It also means being able to read the athletes and tailor your methods or style to meet their needs without losing the message.?When you see them “getting it,” taking what has been communicated and what has been demonstrated and making it a part of their DNA, you know that you have accomplished what you set out to do.”