by Lydia Cobb | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Next Batter Up

For more than 50 years, Poway American Little League (PALL) has been a community-gathering place where boys and girls practice life skills on the diamond. “I played in the little league in Poway on the same fields we use today,” shared Rob Nigro, who began volunteering 10 years ago when the first of his three sons started baseball. Nigro is the lead pastor at Family Life Christian Fellowship. He is the umpire-in-chief and trains and schedules each week’s lineup. He’s joined by volunteer coach and umpire, Rob McKay, a director of licensing for Thermo Fisher Scientific. Rob McKay’s youngest kids play baseball, which inspired his commitment. He affirmed, “PALL baseball is a fantastic representation of our community spirit and it is absolutely why I love to volunteer for the league.”

volunteer_main2In a culture of competitive youth sports, PALL kids practice integrity in sportsmanship. Both Robs enjoy watching the kids play baseball for fun – without pressure. “Little League does a great job of creating a system where every kid gets a chance to play and learn, regardless of their skill level or intention of continuing on in baseball,” added McKay.

Name: Robert Nigro (umpire in chief)
Community: Poway since 1975
Volunteer Affiliation: Poway American Little League
Profession: Lead Pastor, Family Life Christian Fellowship
Family: Wife – Sandra; Children – Brayden (17), Rylan (14), and Landon (9)
Interests: Fishing, baseball, local sports teams, church

The biggest challenge is the scheduling of up to 25 umpires a week. Enter the new Junior Umpire Academy. This first year, PALL employed 34 youth (who are at least 13 years old) as umpires for its minor A, B, and some major league games. Nigro reinforced, “This is an exceptional opportunity for young people who know and love the game of baseball to gain experience in a position of responsibility and work at their first real paying job.” Former players have come back as umpires. McKay added, “I think the fans have really enjoyed seeing them out there umpiring the games.” The little league needs a big roster of volunteers (child on team not required). Volunteers maintain fields and equipment, umpire games, secure sponsorships, and even make snow cones. “It takes an army of volunteers to make it a great experience for the kids and families,” mentioned McKay.

Name: Rob McKay (coach and umpire)
Community: Poway since 2003
Volunteer Affiliation: Poway American Little League
Profession: Director of Licensing, Thermo Fisher Scientific in Carlsbad
Family: Wife – Kelly; Children – Ian (20), Madeline (17), Jackson (10), and Bobby (9)
Interests: Baseball, SDSU sports, cooking, math, Baja Mexico

“PALL baseball is a fantastic representation of our community spirit and it is absolutely why I love to volunteer for the league.”

Off the mound, Rob Nigro’s interests include fishing and reading. As a scientist, Rob McKay enjoys cooking and finds it is similar to performing experiments. Back in the lights, they share the field of dreams that every child and volunteer can experience the pure joy of baseball.

Group: Poway American Little League
Purpose: Use baseball to teach kids sportsmanship, integrity, and how to simply be a better citizen.