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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
When one thinks of all of the parents, coaches and managers who have sacrificed countless hours of their time over the past 17 years to be a part of the Cerritos Girls Softball Association, one name that has to appear at the top of the list is Lori Williams. But after nearly two decades, the CGSA will be without Williams, for the most part, once the summer comes to an end.
Williams, who has been with the CGSA since 1999 when the league came into existence, including being a board member since 2005 and president for six years, will hand over the presidency reigns to Dan Hensgen in early September. Williams actually decided towards the end of last summer that she would step down from being the CGSA president following the 2016 season.
“A lot of reasons went into this decision, of the main ones being the fact that last year’s all-stars was a very difficult season and very challenging with the parents that we had on the team,” Williams said.
Before the CGSA, there was the Cerritos Bobby Sox. But it wasn’t until 1999 when Williams met Larry Orozco at Gahr High and one night, he found out she played softball and asked if she would be interested in helping him coach a CGSA recreational softball team. Williams recalled that Orozco wanted to use non-parents to help him coach. Later on, Williams joined the CGSA board when former president Elliot Gray retired nearly 10 years ago. The 2006 season was really when the CGSA began to take off, partly because of the 8-Under All-Star team. That squad advanced to the Amateur Softball Association “B” State Tournament, the first time that the ASA had allowed that age level to go to the state tournament. That all-star team went an unprecedented 26-0-3 in tournament games and outscored its opponents 32-1 in five district tournament games. Since then, the CGSA has sent at least one all-star team to the state tournament every summer.
“I think it shows how we’ve stepped up our game on our coaching and having our coaches try to mentor the younger ones; trying to make everybody that’s new attend the ASA clinics they have once a year when they first start,” Williams said.
Including this summer, which recently saw the 14-Under All-Stars go 2-2 in the ASA “C” State Tournament and will have the 8-Under and 10-Under All-Star teams participate in the “B” State Tournament beginning today, a total of 18 CGSA All-Star teams have moved on past the districts since 2006. In 1999, a pair of teams also accomplished the same feat.
Williams played softball at Mayfair High but on the junior varsity team her junior and senior seasons. She was a swimmer by trade and swam at Mayfair for two years before the school dropped the program. Unlike the vast majority of coaches and managers who have been a part of the CGSA, Williams doesn’t have a daughter. Even though she didn’t have a daughter to coach, she says it’s still a great feeling to see kids come up to her all the time and listen to them telling her all of the great things they did during a particular game.
“I was brought up to volunteer,” Williams said. “Both of my parents were strong volunteers; very deep in the programs they got into. And I’ve volunteered my whole life. When this opportunity came along, it was in a gap time because [I was] a single parent at the time…and when Larry offered me this, it was an easy thing. It fit with what I like to do.”
More recently, Williams was the manager of last summer’s 14-Under All-Star team that played in just three district tournament games in an abbreviated version, but won all three. Her team blanked San Pedro 17-0 and Santa Monica 7-0 before edging Pico Fastpitch 7-5. In 2012, Williams managed the 10-Under All-Stars to the state tournament, the first time she had been there in quite some time. That team had to win three straight games in the loser’s bracket to get to the state tournament.
“The best moments have been when I could actually not necessarily coach my own team,” Williams said. “As far as being president, [it’s] years like this where we had three out of our four teams make it to the state tournament. Being such a small league and everything and for us to be able to compete at the “B” level…it’s pretty good because a lot of leagues are really big. I get really proud of them for that.”
However, with all of the good of being involved with a recreational softball team or program in any capacity, there are bound to be some frustrations. In addition to the constant battles with parents over a variety of issues, Williams and the CGSA have had to deal with enrollment issues and battles with the City of Cerritos over usage of the Cerritos Sports Complex and other fields, just to name a few.
“As far as the teams and the all-stars, the frustrating part is not getting enough kids to come to the dynamics of Cerritos and dealing with the city itself,” Williams said. “It’s challenging from a president’s aspect of it. You have to meet certain requirements, which is okay. We don’t mind meeting our requirements.”
Williams said she will still be involved with the CGSA in terms of consulting with any of the coaches and/or board members and hinted that she may or may not get back into coaching. But she added that she just needs a break for awhile. In addition, Bruce Sawyer, the ASA Assistant Junior Olympic Commissioner at the recreation level, has asked Williams if she would be interested in volunteering at their level. In the meantime, Hensgen will be the new president in September and George Molina will be the vice president.
Williams added that she wouldn’t have been able to do all of this without Adele Perryman, who has helped her a lot throughout all of these years. She says Perryman has been an asset over the years with everything. Also, in a statement Williams sent out to the CGSA members and others earlier in the spring, she said “it has been an honor to be a part of Cerritos Girls Softball for the past 17 years and I want to thank everyone who has been there to help me in my journey through the years, and remind them that there is nothing more precious than our children and the smiles and confidence we can help give them by providing a nurturing and safe environment to play a game.”
Going forward with the new regime, Williams said that if they keep with those things that everybody has worked hard to achieve, they’ll do well.
“There’s no reason they can’t,” she continued. “It’s a good group of people and a lot of people are there for the right reasons, even if there are a few that aren’t.”
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