MONTOURSVILLE, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Little League World Series is a tournament of the best young ballplayers across the globe.
Eyewitness News reporter Kevin Hayes has more from Lycoming County and the interpreters who help break down the barriers of communication. Once a year teams from around the globe descend on central Pennsylvania and South Williamsport. It doesn’t matter what language they speak.
“I would say that language is not a barrier for them. You can see that in The Grove and in the rec room,” Gilbert Monell, an interpreter for the Latin America region champions said.
For teams that make the cut for the Little League World Series from the United States, it’s easy. You come, swing for the fences and make friends along the way. For the international teams, sometimes you rely on an interpreter to make sure you can communicate with other players, fans and the media.
“Being the interpreter, it’s not just making the translation for the kids and the coaches with all the stuff going on. You have to do a lot of things, even help off the field,” Marco Mignola, interpreter for the Europe-Africa Region champs said.
Mignola is helping the Italians and says his role is somewhere between a translator, a chaperone and a team manager.
“You always have to be in a way to teach them, to keep them calm and keep them in the right way as well as give the right instructions,” Mignola said.
Monell is from Puerto Rico. He has been a volunteer and an interpreter for several Spanish-speaking teams in his many years of service to the tournament.
“We had the honor of winning the Sportsmanship Award with the team from Venezuela. We are pushing very hard this year for that award again so they’ve all been good. As I said, they are all different and it’s a new experience with each of the teams I’ve had. They are all great. It’s just great being here,” Monell said.
Both agree that the players are good at mingling within themselves and making friends, but there are challenges to their jobs. The hardest part?
“The media stuff because you have to be very, very on time. you have to keep them all together and bring them in at the right time,” Mignola said.
While stressful, the two weeks spent with the players, who are as diverse as the languages they speak and the colors they wear in South Williamsport, neither would rather be doing anything else right now.
“Being with them, spending time with them, that’s the best part. Just being with them, it’s a very emotional time when you meet them and start learning their names. Then it’s pretty hard when you get to the airport to go back and you have to say goodbye,” Monell said.
Though many languages are spoken within the Little League World Series complex, only two matter: baseball and sportsmanship.