ALAMEDA -- Reporters covering Alameda sports quickly discover the community's many facets. They will find sports pages easy to fill as many events happen on the Island throughout the year and they learn that residents have diverse sporting interests.
They'll also soon find themselves crossing paths with Ron Matthews. For baseball, Matthews serves as president of the Alameda Little League, is past president of Alameda Babe Ruth, maintains a long association with the Alameda World Tournament Team and served on the Alameda High School coaching staff from 2003-2012.
As for football, Matthews is president of the Alameda Wolverines and previously officiated high school games. For good measure, he previously headed the Alameda High Boosters Club and currently serves as secretary on the board of the Alameda Boys and Girls Club.
In recognition of his community service, KPIX-TV honored Matthews with a Jefferson Award in March. Jefferson Awards are given nationwide for public service, and KPIX and KCBS radio are the Bay Area partners in the program. Fellow Alameda resident and Little League board member Stephan Pippen nominated Matthews for the prize.
"I've known Ron since my now 13-year-old son was in T-ball League, and I got to see him up close and what he does for Alameda," said Pippen, a player agent for the Alameda Little League. "Ron's always advocating for the kids."
Matthews, in turn, credits the entire community.
"It's an honor to be recognized for something we've created -- and when I say 'we,' it's not just me -- there a lot of people involved," said Matthews, a self-employed insurance broker. "(Alameda is) a community where a lot of people help each other. We understand what we're doing, and what we're doing is helping kids grow ... and I'm just a part of that."
For Matthews, who moved from Seattle to San Francisco in 1977 and has lived in Alameda since 1980, "no child left behind" isn't just some trendy catchphrase. In his 15 years as Alameda Little League president, Matthews has seen sign-ups more than triple to some 1,000 players.
Looking ahead, the league hopes to add a Challenger Division for special-needs children. As it is, the Alameda Little League offers scholarships to those players whose families struggle to cover the $125 registration fee.
"Ron goes to great lengths to get kids into Little League when financial considerations would otherwise get in the way," Pippen said. "Ron connects. He promotes the program. He's a great steward for youth sports."
A visitor to the Alameda Little League Complex at Rittler Park will notice the many championship banners that the organization proudly displays. But Little League -- like many other youth sports programs -- involves more than excelling on the field.
"We aim to teach not just the game, but to teach more ... to teach respect for others, to teach sportsmanship, is more than the game itself ... it's life," Matthews said. "(We tell our coaches) to keep sportsmanship and respect for others on the front burner, and to keep winning on the back burner. We're not 100 percent successful -- there's always a few coaches (who put winning at the forefront) -- but we keep doing our best."
For a man who turns 63 this month, Matthews appears younger. Perhaps his energy level has something to do with it. And though his own children have long moved on from youth and high school sports -- Matthews and his wife of nearly 38 years, Renee, have two grown children; Brittany, 33, an artist and graphics designer, and Graham, 26, a San Francisco police officer -- Matthews remains heavily involved in his volunteer work.
Little League parents, for instance, will see Matthews act as master of ceremonies for such events as opening day. But there's much more, as he also helps maintain the fields, makes sure the snack bars get manned, serves as an umpire when needed, mentors coaches and helps clean up at day's end.
And that's just Little League. Matthews also boasts a 15-year association with Alameda World Tournament Baseball. This year, he serves as general manager for the team that looks ahead to the World Tournament in Hawaii from Aug. 6-15. And then there's his involvement with the Alameda Wolverines and the Boys and Girls Club. So, does Matthews ever sleep?
"The fact is, I can administrate all these operations," Matthews said. "They don't overlap."
As the Jefferson Award recognizes, service to the community -- especially to its youngest members -- remains a driving force for Matthews.
"It was exciting for all those things I'm involved in to get the recognition; it was great to have Alameda get the recognition," Matthews said. "The Alameda Boys and Girls Club is a kingpin for kids in the community that really need help. There are a lot of great programs ... Alameda Soccer Club, Alameda Youth Basketball ... I'm not involved with any of these, but they do a great job of giving to the youth of our community, too."
For information about the Alameda Little League, go to http://www.eteamz.com/alamedalittleleague.