Story by CINDY
Photos by LUKE
ost will agree that there is a priceless fulfillment in touching the lives of children in a positive way. Bill Cunningham, a volunteer baseball coach for the Pooler Recreation Department, knows the value of this. Bill, a North Carolina native, has lived in Pooler for most of his life. He, along with his wife Elena, have encouraged their two children, nine-year-old Billy and seven-year-old Brianna, to enjoy sports and activities in order to stay healthy and active.
Being the type of role model that’s needed to mentor children should definitely be a familiar concept to Bill, since he has been part of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department for about 25 years and is presently a lieutenant.
Bill has coached baseball for the Pooler Recreation Department for a couple of seasons. He coached the 8 and under league (8U) last year; he is currently coaching The Warriors, the 10 and under team (10U) that his son Billy plays for. Interestingly enough, Bill’s daughter Brianna attends dance class and has also participated in gymnastics, which are both offered by the department. She aspires to soon participate in cheerleading now that she is seven.
Bill really enjoys baseball, a sport he participated in all throughout his childhood. He even played during his first year at Winston Salem State University. Obviously, he has a lot of experience on the field.
“I love baseball. I’ve played baseball all of my life. My father coached me before high school. I wanted to coach him [Billy]. I played baseball all the way to college,” Bill states.
Bill wants the kids to really get the most out of the game. He wants them to learn as much as possible and have fun the whole way through. He says that he wants to “teach them how to play baseball, so that they can develop a love for the game.” He feels it’s important that he “teach the young men about teamwork–how to depend on each other and encourage each other to do the best that they can do.”
“Like schoolwork, it’s about practicing and reaching a goal. To become a better player, they have to put in the time and the effort and the work. At the end of the season, when they look back, they’ll see that they have improved,” he remarks.
Bill later declares, “The object is to make them better than they were whenever they came and to give them an understanding of the game.”
Bill does strive to better his athletes so that they will continuously improve and build on their skills. Whether batting, throwing or catching, he wants them to reach their full potential. Bill feels that majority of the kids are truly excited about playing the game of baseball and really want to learn in order to get better at it.
He mentions, “Most of the kids who play baseball are in it because they want to play baseball.”
Bill does not take coaching lightly. He understands the great value in what he is doing, especially when thinking of his own childhood and the moments he shared with his dad playing the game. Bill embraces the priceless moments he is afforded with his son—times shared that his son can see “dad” in another light.
“When I look back, I enjoyed the time I spent with my father. This is something he [Billy] will carry with him throughout life. When he has kids, maybe he, too, will want to coach them,” he says.
Most adults who have spent time around children agree that they can be great teachers. They are often the most sincere of all. Consequently, Bill appreciates how genuine the kids can often be when it comes to the game.
“They keep it real from the standpoint that it’s about fun. It is supposed to be about fun. To fall in love with the game, you have to have fun. We try to teach but want to make sure they clown around and be a kid and have fun,” Bill says.
Bill is grateful for all that the Pooler Recreation Department does for the kids. He feels that Jeremy Greene, Athletic Director, along with the overall department does a lot to enhance the lives of children through the various sports and activities that are offered.
Regarding this, Bill comments, “I think that Jeremy and his staff here have done an outstanding job. He’s got a good program, good fields and good equipment. He works with us when we need something.”
Besides coaching, Bill also enjoys fishing and golfing. In fact, he has a boat; however, he admits that he hasn’t taken it out in a long time, due to a relatively busy schedule.
Bill Cunningham wants to make a lasting impression in the lives of the children that he coaches. He, along with the Pooler Recreation Department, is striving to do a lot of good in the lives of many young people.
“As long as I can help the kids, I would like to be a part of it,” he states.