San Marino National Little League softball players Sophie Kennedy Taylor and Kayla Giddings received the Courtney A. Miller Spirit Award at the 4th of July celebration in Lacy Park.
The award is presented in memory of Courtney, a former SMNLL softball player herself, who passed away in 2006 at age 19 following a three-year battle with cancer.
The Courtney Miller Foundation and the Miller Family present the award annually to the softball player or players who best exemplifies Courtney’s indomitable spirit. The recipients are selected based on the following criteria: team spirit, enthusiasm, sportsmanship and fair play, team contribution, dedication, inspiration and the ability to overcome challenges to participate in SMNLL softball. The award was first presented in 2006.
Courtney played in San Marino National Little League for five years, beginning in the Pitching Machine division, and then moved on to Minors Softball. Courtney was selected to the Minors All-Star team – which later became the very first San Marino Softball District champion to qualify and compete at the Regional level, launching the SMNLL’s softball program to the level of success it has enjoyed ever since. Many of the girls on that winning team went on to play as Junior All-Stars and in 2001 competed on the first team from San Marino to participate in the National Little League World Series.
Courtney was a gifted athlete, a spirited and positive softball player, an enthusiastic competitor, hard worker, good friend and teammate, and embodied all of what it means to participate in SMNLL softball. She continued that spirit and competitiveness in later endeavors, in high school at Pasadena Poly and at the University of California, Berkeley. Courtney inspired many in her brave fight against cancer.
Brent Bilvado, San Marino National Little League’s softball commissioner, presented the awards last Thursday during the annual salute to the city’s Little League All-Stars.
Kennedy played this past season for the Texas Longhorns and Kayla was a member of the Clemson Tigers. During his presentation, Bilvado quoted former United States women’s national soccer star Mia Hamm in paying tribute to Courtney.
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back,” said Bilvado. “Play for her.”