The Middle Village resident’s lengthy tenure impacted the lives of youth from ages three to 17 and spanned four sports, but he will be best remembered for his time on the baseball diamond.
In 1984, Powles’ six-year-old nephew led him into the sport.
“He wanted to play baseball and he liked it,” Powles said. “I’m going to have to bring him to the game, I might as well coach him and watch him. The YMCA asked me if I wanted to coach, and I said yes.”
Through the Ridgewood YMCA, Powles taught instructional baseball for children between the ages of six and eight.
From 1986 to 1994, he coached 13-year-old kids in the Reiff Park Baseball League. His nephew eventually outgrew the league, but Powles didn’t.
“I kept on going with him until he was about 16 or 17,” he said. “I liked it.”
In 1995, Powles began coaching in the Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village-Maspeth (RGMVM) Little League, the oldest Little League in the borough, dating back to 1952.
In 1997, he returned to the Reiff Park Sports League as Baseball Commissioner, staying after the name was changed to the Heroes league following the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Powles will remain with the Heroes Basketball League as a special advisor.
“I’m not going out in the field anymore, my feet hurt, my knees hurt,” Powles said on why he decided to retire now. “I’m 71, it’s that time of life to pass the torch.”
This year, Powles coached a child whose father was on his team as a 16-year-old player in RGMVM.
“He came to me and said ‘oh I know you,’” Powles recalled. “Now 25 years later, he’s 40 and he has his own three-year-old son that he’s bringing to learn baseball from the same teacher.”
During his years on the field, he has seen how youth sports has changed.
“You can’t get coaches to help you, they aren’t interested anymore,” he said,
Additionally, the number of players has dropped significantly. Powles used to coach 100 kids each year, while this year it was just 11.
“Every year it kept going down,” he said. “Kids don’t want to get out and instead want to play video games.”
However, Powles does his best to overlook these issues and instead focus on the good experiences on the field.
“I remember one child hit the ball and ran to third base,” Powles laughed. “I think that was the only time I’ve seen that, and I’ve been to 99 percent of the games.”
Unquestionably, Powles’ favorite moments were giving out trophies at the end of the season and seeing the smile on a young child’s face.
“That’s my reward for everything,” he said. “Seeing that at the end of the season.”