Competition has a funny way of bringing out the best in people. It's the competitive side of George Whelan that has carried him to this exact point in his life. But he said it's not about him, rather it's the culmination of a community teaming up and competing for the love of the game.
"I've had time to reflect on what I've done," Whelan said. "But it's not about me, it's about the kids. I've had some good kids, some great parents and some great assistant coaches. It makes my job a lot easier."
George has been at the helm of Lewis County youth sports since 1973. If you do the math, that is 40 years of service; coaching, refereeing and leading the next generation. On Saturday, he made it official: He is retiring from a life spent helping others reach their dreams.
"When you say George Whelan's name, it's synonymous with Lewis County and its youth," Whelan's niece, Lesley White said. "He is everything. There is probably not a kid who has played sports in the county, who hasn't encountered George as a coach, as a referee, or as a fundraiser person. He's just everywhere that there is sports."
Saturday's Opening Day festivities for the Butchersville Little League did much more than simply excite the public. It was also spent thanking a man who never even had kids of his own, instead serving as a father figure to others in the world of sports.
"We're his only family members and stuff and he's worked really hard and deserves this all," Lewis County Little League participant Leo White said.
"I think it's a really big day because he's getting a field named after him and he's getting a poster, like a Red Sox jersey. He'll have it so he won't forget the Red Sox," Lewis County Little League participant Luke White said.
As he departs from the baseball diamond, his words continue to echo in the minds of everyone he has touched throughout his life.
"We had a saying on the Red Sox: Once a Sox, always a Sox. When we had pretty good success over the years, it was only attributed to one thing: My kids, the players and the coaches," Whelan said.