Letters From The Editor: Steinberg encourages Pilot Cup participants and parents

He had everyone at hello.

That would be sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who delivered a warm speech on a hot day at The Daily Pilot Cup.

Steinberg, who recently began writing a sports column for the Daily Pilot, peppered his Sunday awards ceremony speech with references to "Jerry Maguire," the film partly based on his life.

When he shouted, "Show me the soccer!" the winning teams and families cheered.

But this wasn't some celebrity appearance with a remote connection to community. Steinberg is a longtime Newport Beach resident who sent his three children to public schools and has long participated in youth sports.

He's as local as a Balboa Bar.

He knew plenty of families, throwing hugs and handshakes like one of his better known clients, Troy Aikman, could toss a spiral.

He was charming, funny and endearing.

He treated our talented videographer, Julie Buehler, as if she was a correspondent from ESPN.

He joyfully helped UC Irvine soccer players hand out medals. When my 5-year-old daughter on multiple occasions ran out into the crowd, he graciously retrieved her and shared that one his children was just like that at the same age.

And when Mariners Elementary School came up to collect its medals for its first Gold Division win, Steinberg joined the kids in hoisting the Pilot Cup and jumping up and down on the field as if they had just won the World Cup.

This from a guy who has been to his share of Super Bowls.

Leigh made an already special event more so. The weeklong friendly tournament brought kids together from every elementary school — public and private — in our twin communities, and a couple of bordering towns.

The event has gone on now for 12 years. And there is indeed money to show — this year's beneficiaries are Newport-Mesa schools.

At the end of it all Sunday, Steinberg suggested that some of the kids get in touch with him in 10 years if they need representation.

"I am out here scouting today," he said.

I am not entirely sure he was joking.

JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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