By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – Some people like to pull out the ol’ “I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive!” card.
In Trent Beer’s case, he can say that to anyone who plays in the little league he’s helped guide for over two decades. Having been associated with the league in one way or another for almost four decades, Beer made official in announcing after this year’s Wawasee Summer League season he has stepped away.
Beer has been with the league going back to his days lining up his swing in T-Ball, then later becoming an umpire as a fifth grader. After high school, Beer joined the league board as soon found his niche in the construct of the organization.
“I helped with several aspects of the operations of the league the first few years but my main focus has always been on umpires,” Beer said. “I was the UIC (umpire coordinator) at Milford before the leagues combined and have been the UIC for Wawasee Community Youth Leagues since it’s creation.”
Beer would oversee the umpires, their schedules and their performance. It wouldn’t be out of the question for Beer to intervene with a parent taking out their frustrations on blue. But Beer also wasn’t just a defender, but would constructively critique as needed when the arbiter could improve.
His own work as a umpire has been noted, as he has served from youth league levels all the way to the IHSAA State Finals. In 2015, Beer was named the IHSAA Umpire of the Year, highlighting his work in a dozen sectionals on up in 19 years as a high school official.
The 1995 graduate from the same corporation he currently serves as a math teacher has seen the baseball and softball landscape change in many ways. But other aspects continue to stay the same.
“I feel Little League means different things to different families,” Beer said. “Some see it as a way to come together to participate in or watch an activity all summer long. Some see it as a way to prepare and refine skills before playing high school baseball or softball. Those two elements have stood the test of time and have remained consistent. Little League has and hopefully always will provide a safe environment for kids to get exercise, learn to work together as a team, how to win or lose with grace, and interact positively and productively with peers and adults.
“What has changed is how many things compete with Little League for the time of our kids in the summers. The numbers will likely never get back to where they were when each town could sustain their leagues but the hope is that they won’t further slip to make it necessary to play more games against other towns.”