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Hardman does her best to help players do their best

May 07, 2010|BOB PARASILITI
  • Lori Hardman, center, sits in the dugout with her twin 8-year-old sons, John (left) and Samuel (right) before a minor league game at American Little League. Hardman is the manager of the team.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN-Like most mothers, Lori Hardman wears a number of hats.

She is a psychologist, psychiatrist and therapist. She is the social director, referee and sometimes the warden of her three children.

But of all the headwear she shuffles, the one hat that is most enjoyable and rewarding to don is the baseball cap she wears when she manages her twin sons on L&C Cleaners, a minor league team at American Little League.

In baseball circles, female managers aren't commonly found. There is something about the sacred ritual of fathers teaching their sons about sports and competition. So, understandably, Hardman has a motherly approach to it.

"I love being a coach," she said. "My focus here, as a manager, is to keep the kids' spirits up. My big thing is a 'be positive' attitude. 'Do your best' ... That's the Cub Scout motto." Baseball has become a vehicle for Hardman to help convey so many beliefs to her young players, including her 8-year-old twin sons, John and Samuel. She spends the time with her boys, but they have an understanding Hardman is worried about the other players.

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"We have kids over at our house constantly," Hardman said. "My players look at me as a second mom. I take kids home and I pick them up. They know I will stay with them. My boys ... are always sharing my time and they are willing to help me." Hardman's main drive is to make sure all her players have confidence, self-esteem and a positive attitude. She got her philosophy about coaching from watching her oldest son, 14-year-old Tyler, compete in wrestling.

"Wrestling and it is a one-on-one sport. When he lost, (he would become very upset) and that was very upsetting to me," Hardman said. "I do whatever I could to see the positive side." The goal is to play to win, but no matter what, make sure her players remember to play hard. Hardman believes the memories of winning and losing will pass, but the satisfaction of each player knowing what happens when they try their absolute best will last forever.

She admits her baseball knowledge is limited, but she has ways to get around it and other methods to make her presence vital.

"I never played organized baseball, but I had five boy cousins who played all the time," Hardman said with a grin. "I was a tomboy. When I was in school, I played tennis." Hardman took the managing position out of necessity for American Little League. Hardman's husband, Dave, managed the team last year and was able to move up to oversee a Major League division team. The league would have been forced to realign players because of a lack of managers, so she volunteered to take the position.

Thus, Hardman went from team mom to the manager of the team she sponsors.

She is the "L" in L&C Cleaning.

Sponsorship does have its privileges, but it also has its responsibilities-all of which are readily accepted by Hardman.

The managing gig gives her more hats to wear because she is also one of American's volunteer officers-along with many other mothers-and is the secretary on the board of directors, a concession stand worker and a heavy supporter of all of American Little League's objectives. Add to the list some personal objectives.

"I get so nervous. There is a lot of pressure of being a female manager," Hardman said. "This league has a lot of single moms. In a lot of cases, the father isn't around. Only the mother is here to support the kids and is doing the job of both parents. Every single mom is strong and I want the kids to know that they are the ones who are always here for them." And in a sense, that is why American Little League is the perfect place to be for Hardman.

"I love being here. I will do anything American Little League needs as long as I can do it well," she said. "I want this league to do as well as possible. There have been some problems here in the past and we are trying to bring it back to where it used to be." Like most people who get involved in baseball, the sport-and for Hardman, managing-gets in the blood. If she is allowed, she would like to manage again, but unlike the opportunity afforded her husband, she isn't planning on moving up the age-group ladder.

"If I get the chance, I would love to move down to manage the younger kids," Hardman said. "I love that age. At that age, you have the most chance to have an impact and transform them. There are a lot of kids who want to prove themselves ... to their parents and to themselves.

"So, when they get a hit or make a catch, they are so happy and get the chance to express themselves. This is my way to get into the kids' minds that they are good at something. It is good positive reinforcement and something they all need." Managing her twins and helping American Little League has been a great experience for Lori Hardman.

The payment for all the work is very simple.

"I try to stay involved with my kids and be as positive as possible. I think it changes them that much," she said. "It's great to hear that little voice saying, 'I'm trying to get a hit for you.' It's good because they are trying to do their best and make a difference for me and to make their parents proud. That's why the Cub Scout motto is only three words, but 'Do your best' is a great slogan."

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