“What are we gonna take from the pitcher? His lunch money!”
The locker room speech is an American art form. From Al Pacino’s raspy meditation on life and death in Any Given Sunday, to Gene Hackman’s rhythmic call to arms in Hoosiers, to Billy Bob Thornton’s somber prayer for full hearts in Friday Night Lights, these monologues capture the sentimentalism of team competition, as well as the platonic ideal of The Coach: the fearless leader, emotional anchor, stand-in parental figure, and moral defender of sportsmanship.
Every so often real-life coaches enter the canon, as David Belisle did two summers ago at the Little League World Series. After his team from Rhode Island lost an 8-7 heartbreaker to Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West, Belisle gathered his teary-eyed players in shallow right field and delivered a three-minute eulogy to the season. “It's OK to cry, because we're not going to play baseball together anymore,” Belisle says. “But we're going to be friends forever.”
The speech ends with a 30 second group hug. The clip on YouTube garnered 400,000 views in two days.
The following Little League motivational speeches aren’t quite as famous, but they are equally as endearing. They feature Greek mythology, rhetorical questions, American flags, and fart jokes. Cue them up when you need inspiration.
“Lunch money on 3!”
Scott Bergin, a baseball coach in Montgomery, Texas, keeps his message simple: Hit dingers. He admits defense sucks, calls opponents “fart sniffers,” and commands his players to steal the pitcher’s lunch money. “When the dust has cleared and the smoke has settled,” Bergin says, “the A’s are going to be the goodest.”
“Can you dig it?”
The night before a tournament game at Cooperstown (N.Y.) Dreams Park, this coach in cargo shorts tells his team a story about Zeus, the Rock of Gibraltar, and bats forged in the “bowels of hell”—then reminds the room full of pre-teens to stay sober. He asks “Can you dig it?” three times. (Language warning: Clip NSFW)
“This ain’t rec ball no more.”
Sounding like Tuco Salamanca mixed with Sonny Vaccaro, Coach Richie teaches his team about the pressures of adulthood. “Fellas,” he yells, “sometimes with travel ball, it’s gonna feel like a job.”
“Army on 3!”
Before his Tuscaloosa team took the field, this coach brought in an Army sniper from nearby Fort Benning to share platitudes about teamwork and give the players a folded American flag. It’s unclear whether the sniper ever played baseball.
“We are Red Land”
After Lewisburg, Pa.’s, little league team won the U.S. tournament last year, Republican Congressman Scott Perry issued his congratulations on the House floor, praising the players’ “honesty” and “respect for authority.” Near the end of the speech, he accidentally calls the town “Lewisberry.”