BEECH CREEK - Throughout the whole journey, Bill Garbrick has remained humble and blessed.
Really, though, did you expect anything different from the 2011 Keystone Major manager? It's the way he approached the entire magical run of a summer filled with dreams beyond anyone's wildest imagination.
With the annual Little League World Series set to begin in South Williamsport, the 2011 summer unlike no other in Clinton County still continues forward.
Even one year later.
"I'm sure everyone is different, depending on what family you ask," said Garbrick as he recalled last year's journey. "I know that Chip (Miller) has probably watched every game like five or six times, and listened to the games on tape. For Tina and myself, we just got done going through all the newspaper articles, reading each one over and over. It's bringing back a lot of great memories for both of us."
Memories last forever.
Garbrick will tell you that.
The memories of Keystone's dominating run through districts, sectionals and states. The impressive showing on ESPN during the Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
And yes, the 2011 Little League World Series which set an attendance record thanks to Keystone drawing some 30,000 fans per game.
"Our fans were great. They were there the entire journey," he said. "It meant so much for us, and for the kids. You saw the smile on their faces every time they looked around and saw those Keystone shirts, no matter where we were. It's going to be interesting to see the numbers for the Series this year. It's a great event, there's no doubt about it."
No one will ever forget the impact made upon Clinton County.
Garbrick admits he didn't understand the scope of just how much his boys meant until they got home to see it first hand.
Remember, Keystone left for Bristol, Conn. and never returned to Clinton County until after the impressive run through the LLWS.
"When you are there, you don't really understand what is going on back home," he said. "I mean, you hear about things and you see pictures, but you don't fully understand until you return. It was so busy when we got back. We got invited to so many events, and everyone wanted us to talk and listen to our story. This community has made such an impact on our lives, and has touched us in ways that's unexplainable. It was an amazing ride, and we are so honored that the community was with us in every step of the way."
To this day, Garbrick still hears the roar of that Kentucky game on that remarkable Friday night in Lamade Stadium.
A night where both hills, not just one, were filled with blue Keystone shirts and navy blue Mid-Atlantic colors.
"I still can't describe it. Awesome is the word that would come the closest," he said. "When we took the field for the first time, and heard that crowd just explode, it was breath-taking. It really was. The energy that was flowing through Lamade Stadium was incredible. We talked about it all day, and what it would be like. We were curious to see what it would be like because you heard all the numbers floating around. But when you step outside that dugout, and you see 40,000 people with those blue shirts on, it's amazing. It's something I'll never forget."
As teams from states such as California, Nebraska, Tennessee and Connecticut begin to forge their summer of memories, Garbrick knows what each manager is going through.
The preparation. The excitement. The emotions.
And also the anticipation.
"The only advice I would pass along to each one is cherish the moments," he said, "because it really is an amazing ride and you are going to meet some great people along the way. A lot of people say that it doesn't matter about the score during the games, and how many games that you win, but I don't know. Our biggest thing, like we told the kids, is that we wanted to put our best foot forward every time we stepped on the field. There is so much going on, from the dorms to the crowd to television coverage. Sometimes, it's hard for the kids, but it's something that I thought our kids were great at. When it was time to play the game, the kids were focused and ready to go.
"All through the all-star season, we talked about coming home to play in the Little League World Series, but that was on the 'dream scale.' Our immediate goal was to win a state championship, and we really didn't focus much further than that. That was the first step, and that's what we kept emphasizing to the kids. It just happened that we were fortunate enough to beat some very good teams in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and come back to play in front of thousands."
One year later, the Keystone boys still are together playing baseball - assembled under the Canes organization based out of Altoona.
There are differences, no doubt.
"And different challenges," Garbrick said. "The game does change in terms of field dimensions and baserunning. Little things like that. We had some nice baseball skills, and I always thought that we were good with the fundamentals of the game. We had to adjust to the new aspects of the game, which we've been doing. We took a round of infield the other day, and Chip and I just smiled at each other during it. These kids are growing up quickly. Some of the boys probably grew about 6 inches, while others added some muscle.
"The community talks about high expectations when these kids are juniors and seniors. There is so much talent in their class, and the classes ahead of them and behind them. You are going to have three good classes that we will make a strong team. We are going to these events, and it's good baseball. Obviously, the goal is to place as high as we could at these events, and we have had some success. We want them to continue to grow as baseball players, and the ultimate goal would be to win a state title in high school. But I hope that some of these kids can go forward and become good collegiate baseball players, and who knows, maybe even break into the professional ranks."