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Today our Junior Softball All-Star team played a fun pick-up game against our Major’s softball team. It was a blast as all the girls from both of the teams are good friends, the score, irrelevant really, was 2-0 and not because of pitching, but because of fantastic defense played by both teams!
As I stood in the coach’s box at third base, suddenly it hit me. With the exception of one girl, I had coached every one of these players, most for multiple seasons. This was the fruits of my, and many others labors, coming to fruition. The smiles on every one of their faces made this a very proud moment for this humble coach.
To understand you have to know a little history. About 5 years ago I moved here to this small town. The place was recovering from being hit by 3 three massive hurricanes in a row, over 40 inches of rain in less than a month left hundreds of houses flooded. There were messes to clean up everywhere with trees down and parks destroyed.
The season, though it started late, still went on though. Volunteers pitched in and cleared trees, mended fences, and got the sites playable again. Though challenged, peopled pulled together as they often do in times of crisis, and worked to get things back to normal.
It was that fall I had my first experience with softball in DeBary. Our team? 0-16. Did it matter? Not one bit. I could see the raw talent that existed, and I knew that there had to be a ton of other players out there that would love to participate if given the opportunity.
Tonight, there were 19 girls on the field, 18 of them I had coached before. Most for many years, all for many seasons. It was a proud moment. Four years ago we had one minor softball team, one major softball team, and one senior softball team. That was it. This year, we had four minor softball teams, two major softball teams, and a very large senior softball team. Our league grew from 275 players to 333.
Standing there it suddenly hit me how far we had come. There was only 1 error in the game, every player made the correct play at the correct time, and both teams hit the ball hard. I want to take a second to thank every coach who helped, every parent that tolerated our long practices, and every player for believing in each other and in our philosophies.
It was very obvious, the hard work and dedication of so many was paying dividends ten-fold. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of this fantastic transition and it will be interesting to see how far we can go.
Ever get tired of making calls to your team? Those days are over! Now w/ dialmycalls.com you can quickly set up a small broadcast list, make one simple call, and have it delivered to all of them! It’s just that simple! And it’s free for coaches to use!
We use it for the following:
-Call our league to remind them about registration
-Call our league when we have major changes or rainouts
-Call our league to remind them about all-stars and update them on how our teams are doing
-Final registration notice
Since we have started using dialmycalls.com we have virtually eliminated late registrations. Everyone knows when registrations are so they come, they no longer forget.
Last fall during tropical storm Faye our fields were out of commission during tryouts. We have to move them to a secondary location. We used DialMyCalls.com to let them know about the new location and it worked perfectly! I love this program!
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I have often wondered why my softball teams would play so well when I had them dead to rights before the game would start. They would chitty-chatty during the entire warm up session, and then, when it came time to play, they got down to business. Then when we were strict from the beginning, they would not perform. This video provides some insight into the reason.
My favorite quote from the video: “Boys must play well to feel good, girls must feel good to play well.”
That is brilliant!
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We have finally finished the sponsorship pricing for our league and I have finally developed a system for the YSSG to provide scholarships for kids to play ball. This has been a long time coming but I am really psyched about it. I think I have found my calling in life, where this leads I don’t know, but I know it is a thrill!
Our league is providing opportunities to market to over 50,000 parents in a year’s span. A highly captive audience that has nothing to do for 2 hours other than sit there and read your signs!
Spring/Fall Combo Purchase
24 Games/ Week/Park
16 Weeks in Spring
12 Weeks in Fall
60+ Potential Customers/Game
District and State Tournaments
Average Game Length 2 Hours
Over 50,000 captive potential customers will see your advertising for 2 hours straight.
Directly reach your target audience for $.003/view!
It really doesn’t get any better than this! Reach our lucrative marketplace and provide for the kids? And it is all tax deductible???? How can you not sponsor?
Sponsor a Kid With a Scholarship
Every year leagues of all sports all over the world have kids that can’t afford to play. One of two things happens, either the kids don’t register, or the league “scholarships” them. Essentially, this means they let them play for free.
Little League allows leagues to ask for a donation to play, but will not allow a league to stop a player from participating simply because they do not have the money to play. Instead, they recommend the league find participating sponsors to pay their dues. The only problem with this equation is Little League volunteers do not have the time, nor the wherewithal to go out and recruit these sponsors.
This is where the Youth Sports Support Group comes in. We solicit sponsors for individual kids for any and all sports, then we contact the leagues and have them submit “scholarship applications”. From the funds we collect, we offset the cost scholarshipped players. This is not exclusively a baseball program, this is a program to get kids into sports. The mission statement of the YSSG is “Give every child the opportunity to build character through sport”. It need not be baseball.
Our goal is to sponsor 20,000 kids this year. How many would you like to sponsor?
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The following is a list of the top ten songs for a tournament game as selected by a senior baseball team of 15-16 year old boys. Quite and eclectic list I might add:
1-We will Rock you-Queen
3-Sexy can I -Ray J ft Young Berg
4-Center Field -John Fogerty
6-Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynard
8-Lollipop – Lil’ Wayne
9-Down and Out – Tantric
10- Low – ft T Pain by Flo Rida
11-Ella me Levant – Daddy Yankee
OK, it was 11, but Little League amplifiers go to 11 don’t they?
(first one to identify the joke above wins their choice of a free 15×15 ad for a month or a guest post!) Just enter it in the comments section below.
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Image by alandberning via Flickr
The softball Gods really don’t appreciate you breaking their rules and they almost always make you pay dearly when you do! Rule #1 of tournament play, you can’t play tomorrow, if you don’t win today, so you can’t save anything for tomorrow!
I tried to make sure all my pitchers were ready for tomorrow’s game. Guess what?! I will be watching tomorrow’s game from the sidelines. I tried to out-smart the softball Gods, and they made me pay dearly. I deserve every bit of it as well. Our #1 was on fire, she was happy, and would have dominated.
I bow to the power of the softball gods and hope that I never cross them again! Hopefully, they will not hold a long term grudge against me!
What is the stupidest coaching decision you have ever made?
Boot Camp Philosophy
Image via Wikipedia
I approach all-stars with a boot camp philosophy. A mother told me the other day, "my daughter said she misses you. She said he drove us hard and I probably complained back then, but now I miss him". I have NEVER driven a team harder than I did the team I have this year, the response? Overwhelming smiling faces tonight!
My philosophy is fairly simple. You have about two weeks to practice for the district tournament. The problem is they are all from different teams! While they likely know each other from school and such, they are still very loyal to their team. It is important to remove them from this and rebuild them. The problem is you only have two weeks to do this!
Tear Them Down
The first week we tear them down. The second week we rebuild them. Tearing them down requires a boot camp mentality where we work drills that require lots of running and everyone is exhausted when they leave practice. Absolutely no nonsense is permitted, and players are constantly reminded that anyone on the team is capable of taking their position from them and that others are waiting in the wings should they want to quit.
By today, everyone is exhausted and about done with being beat on. That is success! Today the rebuilding begins. To start with we held two practices today. The morning session was typical for a Florida morning 90 degrees and extremely humid! There was not a smile to be found. I smelled things this morning I never want to smell again! It has been raining and all cleats, coaches sneakers, catchers gear, bat bags, etc. are wet and stinky! It was quite rank!
Build Them Up
At the close of the morning session, I announced I would buy everyone pizza for dinner after the evening session. OK, that got a smile out of them. Tonight, after a rain that cooled everything making for a perfect Florida evening, I couldn’t wipe the smiles off of their faces! It was awesome!
We hit tonight, and then played a bunting game and a game of 21 outs. Then the pizza’s arrived. The point of the pizzas was to begin the bonding process. It was nice, and I gave a little speech about how proud of them I was at how hard they had worked without complaining once. I told them I had never worked a team harder and that they should be proud of themselves as well. Then it happened.
It wasn’t planned, there was nothing behind it, it was spontaneous! I asked them did they want to play some more or go home. I also asked them what they wanted to play. One of the girls said they wanted to play us, the parents! They all enthusiastically agreed! It was a no-brainer.
We played them. I have never seen a team have so much fun! Also, they came together, decided batting orders, positions, rotations, etc. They knew to have the good outfielders play because we would hit, and they put the right people in the right positions in the infield! They were pumped! It was amazing to watch and I could not have written a better script to start next week with.
The best part of all????? WE LOST!!!!! The parents lost! For real! We didn’t even tank it! And the absolute best of all. I made the last out against my own daughter!!!!!!!!! And she got the assist on the 1-2 putout. I was swinging for the walk-off homer and hit the ball right to her of the end of the bat. It was brutal. They went nuts! The dugout was buzzing for half an hour!
The last cheer in the circle of "1-2-3 All-Stars " was the loudest of all year! They have begun to come together, they are happy, and they are magic together. Next week we begin to focus on the games. Next week, we pull together as a team.
What is the best bonding experience you have ever seen a team have?
50% of our Teams Make District Championships!
Received a call today from a mother of our Juniors team. They just made it to the championship of our District Tournament of Champions! That makes 2 out of our 4 teams! Not bad for one of the smallest leagues in the country! We have only 300 players, 2 major baseball teams, 2 major softball teams, 2 junior baseball teams, and 1 senior softball team.
Just to compare. The league I came from in Virginia had 119 teams, 14 major teams, 2 charters, and it was ONLY baseball! Our 300 consists of 7 softball teams! We are blessed with fantastic coaches, training, and parents. One should never take that for granted.
We Need Lights
The power company was changing our light bulbs last year on one of our older fields and noticed that woodpecker had hollowed out many of the light poles. They immediately had to be taken down! We have since converted this field to a second softball field but can only use it for t-ball during the week because we don’t have any lights on it any more!
We need lights! Any corporations willing to donate to a fantastic program? We offer very creative long term corporate sponsorships if someone were to step up.
A Productive Board
We have had a productive board this year! Here is a list of the large projects we accomplished:
- Batting cages at one park
- Hit-away stations at all parks
- Public Address Systems on all 6 fields
That is the short list. I am proud of what we accomplish every year and when you look back it is amazing what a dedicated group of volunteers can accomplish.
Heading into All-Stars
Now we being our 2nd season. It will be a long time before the rest of the the world sees the little guys on TV playing in the World Series, but it all starts on June 15th. The day all-star teams are able to be announced and begin practicing. The road to the World Series is excrutiatingly long and of the 30K or so teams that set out to make it, only 1 ends their season w/ a victory! The NCAA has nothing on Little League !
Good Luck to All
Good luck to all heading into all-stars. Those that don’t make a team keep working, you will one day! Remember, Michael Jordon was cut from his High School team the first time he tried out!
Anyone have any good all-star memories? Let us know about them.
Image by lbgll via Flickr
Incessant Hum of the Cheer
Softball is wrought with an incessant hum of the cheer . It is at times enlightening, at times motivational, at times informative, and at times funny. But, it should NEVER be unsportsmanlike.
Some cheers are naturally unsportsmanlike. I don’t know if coaches don’t recognize this or don’t care. Either way, they are unacceptable. Rule 4.06(2) states that "no manager, coach or player, shall at any time, whether from the bench or the playing field or elsewhere, use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, manager, coach, an umpire, or spectators."
This rule effectively eliminated the "chatter" we used to do as kids. Remember, "hey batter , batter, batter, batter, hey batter, batter, batter, batter, SWING!". This was a motivational thing the coaches used to keep their kids focused more than a tactic to distract the batter. But, our PC world will not tolerate such actions, so it has been banned.
The cheers I hear coming out of some softball dugouts are in blatant violation of this rule. Some that come to mind?
"3 and 0 now, whatcha gonna do now, walk her, walk her"
"We’re #1, we’re never #2, we’re gonna beat the woopsies out of you, the woopsies out of you"
And the worst of all:
"We stole on you, yeah we stole on you, while you were picking your nose, yeah, we stole on you"
Those are the three I can think of off the top of my head, there are plenty more that are obviously in violation of this rule and definitely unsportsmanlike.
Essentially, any cheer that is derogatory to the other team is unsportsmanlike. Why would you want to taunt a team you were beating, or awaken a team that you have under control? Regardless of the situation, cheers should not berate the other team.
All for Positive Cheers
Now I am all for cheers! Love them! Love the team spirit, love the comraddery, love the way they bring the team together. But ALL cheers should be just that, positive cheers FOR your team, or player, and YOUR team or player only. I don’t care if Little League had that rule or not, this should be a common courtesy and respect between teams, I shouldn’t have to mention it here. But, I do.
Respect your opponent, treat them with dignity, and, win or lose, always conduct yourself with pride.
Do you know a disrespectful cheer? Let’s get a list going!
I have to admit that it has really been a learning experience for me working with an 8 and under travel baseball team . They have really come a long way and I am proud of all of them even though we didn’t win a single game. But the did have fun! I know that.
At least now I will have Friday’s and Sunday’s free! We used to practice on Fridays and play double-headers on Sundays . Guess that just means more housework ! Oh well, that keeps Momma happy, and when momma’s happy, everybody’s happy!
Congrats boys! Proud to have worked with you.Next Page »