Little League World Series

Familiar turf and new role make for special LLWS for Rhode Island’s David Belisle

(L-R) Dave Flemming, David Belisle and Kyle Peterson during today's Little League World Series coverage. (Photo courtesy Gianina Thompson)
(L-R) Dave Flemming, David Belisle and Kyle Peterson during today’s Little League World Series coverage. (Trevor Bray/ESPN)

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Many people remember David Belisle as the manager who gave an inspiring speech to his heart-broken Rhode Island Cumberland American Little League team after its loss in last year’s Little League World Series.

A year later, Belisle, a 15-year Little League coach, has been a part of ESPN’s broadcast team for the 2015 LLWS.

The transition from coach to analyst has been smooth and Belisle shared some of the highlights of his experience with Front Row.

Senior coordinating producer Matt Sandulli on Coach Belisle:

“It was an absolute pleasure to have Coach Belisle as part of the team. He adapted to TV extremely quickly and was a natural in the booth. I think allowing him to literally coach the kids from the broadcast booth as part of his commentary was the element that made his presence so successful. We were able to provide viewers a chance to get to know what a special person he is coming off of the cultural impact he made last year with his now famous end-of-game speech. It really was an honor and pleasure to work with him and we could not have been happier with the impact he had.”

What was it like being part of the games as a broadcaster versus a coach?
It was exciting to tell you the truth. Last year brought incredible memories coaching a young group of boys and getting them to Williamsport a second time around. The entire venue here inspires sportsmanship, competitiveness, respect, and excitement to athletes and even adults.

I didn’t envision the transition being so easy – and that was only because ESPN allowed me to be myself, which in turn made it easy.

Karl Ravech, Dave Flemming and commentator Chip Fridrich really helped with my transition without any hesitation. The whole production team was amazing.

I wasn’t intimidated working with Nomar [Garciaparra], [John] Kruk, Kyle Peterson or Aaron Boone because they all welcomed me in like a friend. I respect a lot of what they’ve accomplished in sports, but they were even more interested in me. That was a great feeling.

How did the idea of having you work the games as an ESPN commentator come about?
Matt Sandulli [senior coordinating producer] gave me a call late last year about it. At the time, I couldn’t commit to anything because my wife Nancy was very ill. After she passed away, I felt it would be very therapeutic for my two sons and me to go to Williamsport. I know my wife would have wanted us to have that warm feeling again.

It’s my wife who really taught me that you have to compete and coach aggressively, but at the end, it’s only a game.

Being here brought back some great memories of my wife. It made my sons and I feel good about ourselves for the right reason. I’m very thankful to ESPN.

The International Championship Game will air Saturday, Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC/WatchABC. The U.S. Championship game will be broadcast Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The winners will meet in the 2015 Little League World Series Championship Game to be broadcast on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 3 p.m. on ABC/WatchABC. For more information, visit ESPNMediaZone.

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