SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) — Spring Hill Little League certainly has a lot to celebrate this year: Challenger Division Coach Hannah Moeller was just named Lance Sandwich Cracker’s Little League Coach of the Year.
“I was super humbled and grateful for it, but how did such a small city get recognized,” Moeller said.
The award didn’t come as a surprise to those who know her best, like Nick Todd.
“She’s got that sparkle in her eye. She’s got that energy. Hannah is simply amazing,” Todd said.
Todd’s son, Logan, is just one of the many athletes impacted by Hannah.
“From the moment Logan met Hannah, it was literally like a light bulb went off,” Todd said. “She came over and gave him a big air hug, and from that moment on he and Hannah had this absolute perfect relationship.”
The Challenger League is an adaptive program for players with physical and intellectual challenges. League President Rob Coats couldn’t recall the last time the league won the award.
“But to get an award for the challenger division, that’s huge,” Coats said.
Senior Brand Manager for Lance Sandwich Crackers Joseph Prast said they were proud to select Moeller for the award.
“The impact Coach Hannah has on her Little League community goes far beyond the field and we received several nominations on her behalf,” Prast said. “We have been celebrating Little League coaches for the last four years with our annual Coach of the Year award and we’re honored to name Coach Hannah as one of the 2023 winners.”
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The Challenger Division was created by Ruth and Dan Wood five years ago, so athletes like their son, Daniel, would have a place to play.
“Many of the kids are just like any other kids, they just do things a little different,” Wood said.
Part of Moeller’s coaching style is all about creating a place where everyone belongs.
“My favorite thing is just going out there and being out with these kids and making sure they feel worthy and included and that they’re not different because they have walkers or wheelchairs; they can still play the game and not be hindered,” Moeller said.
But, not to be confused: Daniel said she’s not a coach that cuts corners.
“‘Daniel, Daniel, run faster!’ I said, ‘I’m going as fast as I can! I’m trying to,'” Daniel said while mimicking how Moeller coaches him.
Coats noted that’s what makes Moeller so special.
“The biggest thing with baseball and softball is loving the game, and I think that is a huge part of why Hannah is so successful in this league as a whole,” Coats said.
After playing softball for 15 years, Moeller feels she’s found a new calling.
“I feel like Jesus has given me this calling and it’s my job to live it out from here on out,” she said.
It’s a calling she hopes to share with everyone after just finishing a children’s book inspired by her team.
The book is titled “Home Runs and High Fives: a Baseball Team for All Abilities.”
“I don’t want anyone to feel hindered or different; just because they’re in a wheelchair or non-verbal, [it] doesn’t mean they’re any different; they just have different abilities,” Moeller said.
Moeller’s book is available now for pre-order here.
In a record-breaking year of over 3,000 submissions for Coach of the Year, Moeller said she’s grateful for the recognition, but this is what she loves to do.
“They bring a whole another level of excitement to my life, because there’s just happy people,” Moeller said. “They’re encouraging to me. Just seeing them happy, just seeing how they live their life just inspires me to do that and live the way they do.”
Because in this game, everyone is a winner and everyone looks forward to a hug at home plate.
“If I can greet them at home plate and tell them I’m proud of them then I just hope that encourages them to want to get up to bat and do it again,” Moeller said.
For those interested in joining or supporting the Spring Hill Little League, more information can be found here.