Team Coached by Shipbuilders Plays for Shot at Little League World Series

Published August 10, 2021

Engineer David Ellis and Rigger Jeff Eicher are shipbuilders by day. But in the evenings, the two – along with a Newport News Police K-9 officer – put on their coaching hats for Warwick Little League and are currently coaching the 10- to 12-year-old All-Star Team.

“We don’t do it to win a game,” said Ellis, whose 12-year-old son plays on the team. “It’s an opportunity to give these kids a guiding influence. We teach baseball, but we also try to teach these guys to grow up to be good young men. For kids this age, particular attention is paid to developing the mental toughness needed to persevere through the failures that are inevitable in baseball.”

After winning both the district and state tournaments, the team was one of eight participating in the Little League Southeast Regional Tournament last week trying to punch a ticket to the Little League World Series. Unfortunately, that quest ended with losses to teams from Florida and West Virginia.

However, the Warwick Little League All-Star Team already made history, becoming the first team in its age division from the Peninsula to win the state tournament since 1954. On the way to that victory, they powered past teams from much larger leagues that typically dominate the tournament.

Ellis said it’s important to the coaches that the young athletes learn life lessons and enjoy the game.

“One of the things that made us most proud about winning the state tournament was the positive feedback from other teams. Moms were posting pictures of our kids consoling their kids after losses and that sort of thing. It was really rewarding from that standpoint because we really do try to teach more than the game,” he said.

With the level of talent on the team, Ellis said this may not be the last time many of the players are “on a big stage.” Fellow coach Eicher already had a similar experience – helping lead the Christopher Newport University baseball team to the Division III College World Series for the first time in school history.