Springer's parents honored at LLWS

2016 Little League Parents of the Year given award before championship game

Springer's parents honored at LLWS

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- A simple but important philosophy sums up why George and Laura Springer were named the 2016 Little League Parents of the Year.

"Being a parent is not a spectator sport," said George Springer Jr., father of the Houston Astros' outfielder. "To be a successful parent, you need to be involved in your kids' lives and always balance what is right for them."

With daughters Nicole and Lena on hand -- son George III was busy playing right field for the Astros -- the Springers were honored in an on-field ceremony just prior to the Little League World Series championship game Sunday.

"To be honored as a Parent of the Year by this organization that does so much for kids through volunteer work is an extraordinary award," George Jr. said. "But I have a confession: Little League has given us a lot more than we have given Little League. It has provided a safe haven for our children to play and a place to learn life skills."

Their dedication to, and involvement in, their kids' lives has certainly paid off for the Springer clan. Youngest daughter Lena is a pitcher for Ohio State University's softball team, which made the NCAA Regionals this year. Her big sister, Nicole, was an all-conference softball player at Central Connecticut State and now coaches both high school and college softball.

Then, of course, there's George III, the 11th overall pick in the 2011 Draft who's now in his third season with the Astros after getting his start in the Walicki Little League in New Britain, Conn., then eventually moving on to an All-American career at the University of Connecticut.

"This award for them is awesome," George III said. "They are the primary reason why I got [to the Major Leagues]. It's great to see them get recognition for their hard work and the sacrifices they made.

"They had three kids in three different places, and somehow they got to all three."

George Jr. actually played in the 1976 LLWS with a team from Forestville, Conn.

"Coming to Williamsport at that time was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen," he said. "That experience of hard work, discipline and overcoming challenges stayed with us."

George III's sisters revealed what life was like growing up in the Springer home.

"'We were very competitive with each other," Nicole said. "We'd say, 'You did this, but guess what -- we're going to be better."

"As the youngest, it was a little different for me," said Lena. "I wanted to do everything my brother and sister could do. And we had some great Wiffle ball games in the living room and the backyard."

Like any other dedicated parents, the role of mom and dad was that of teacher, coach, cheerleader, chauffeur, cook and overall caregiver. Both George Jr. and Laura coached various youth teams throughout their kids' childhood, in addition to volunteering as league officials.

"It was a very, very busy time of our lives," Laura said. "It was also fun and exciting, and we made some great friends.

"Family balance is everything, and we tried to make sure in the context of playing baseball and softball, the notions of self-sacrifice and teamwork transferred off the field. We tried to teach them to be a better person today than they were the day before."

The Springers, who celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in Williamsport this week, insisted repeatedly that what they're most proud of as parents is the quality of person that each of their children has become.

And talking about George III, their only kid who couldn't be here with them, they admitted their biggest thrill to this day is watching him come out of the dugout.

"We still get chills," George Jr. said with a smile.

Mike McCormick is an editorial director for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.