Life from Here to There

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Coach’s Corner 04: New Beginnings

New beginnings are always challenging. When I first started coaching I did not know what I was getting myself into. Honestly, I only wanted to help at practice when the head coach needed assistance. I didn’t have a clue how to teach someone to catch a fly ball or grounder, but I knew what I had been taught and those dormant skills and teachings began to resurface.

I played baseball until I was 14 or 15 years old for a local team. I loved baseball. I dreamt of being a professional player. I watched every Braves game I could and the ones I couldn’t watch I recorded on tape and would listen to them over and over. I, however, was not an incredibly skilled player. I was a terrible batter as far as a batting average is concerned. What I lacked in batting efficiency, I made up for with my OBP (on-base percentage) and speed. I had an uncanny ability to get on base and run my heart out on steals. That’s what kept me in the lineup despite my best efforts to not strikeout. My defense was a bit more on the plus side. I played second and outfield. I was quick and could read a ball.

Note to all outfielders… as you move up in level of play, highlight reels are made from outfielders, never discount an outfield position as “below you”

Now back to coaching. When my daughter started playing fastpitch softball I was befriended by a head coach named Cory. Over the years we have become great friends. During our first season in park-and-rec, we talked about forming a travel softball team simply so our daughters could be more competitive and play at higher levels. Again, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.

Let the travel ball fun begin

In the Fall of 2017, Cory approached me with starting a fastpitch team. Initially, I was reluctant. There were high costs involved – money, time, responsibility. There were a number of unknowns that plagued my decision. After careful consideration and prayer, we (my family because it was going to take all of us) jumped into the fray.

Our team was a scrappy 10u team (9 and 10-year-old girls), most of which had not played travel ball before. We weren’t a team to write home about. We didn’t make it to a single championship all season (about 8 tournaments), but we continued working hard and training our girls. I know winning isn’t everything, but we finished up our Spring 2018 season 8-17.

When Fall 2018 rolled around we were forced to move up a level to the 12u age group. Two substantial things change at that level: (1) the pitching distance increases from 37′ to 40′, and (2) the size of the ball hits a growth spurt, growing from 11″ to 12″ in diameter. We started practicing at the beginning of August and in November 2018, in our last tournament of the season, we brought home our first ever 1st place championship hardware.

Over the next year we experienced a growth spurt ourselves. In the Spring of 2019, we added another 12u team. This became my team. My first head coaching gig. Thank the Lord I had some talented young ladies because it wasn’t my coaching that lead us to a 22-20 season with one 1st place championship and two 2nd place finishes. Cory’s team also had a successful season going 34-23 with several 1st and 2nd place finishes. We had two talented teams and a solid foundation from which to move forward to the future.

Fall and Spring 2019 brought about even more changes and growth. We expanded our team footprint from the two 12u teams to a new 10u team, the same 12u teams, and a new 14u team. Then … COVID.

A toast to new beginnings

At the end of our Spring 2020 season, our teams, along with everyone else in the world, had a rough time getting through COVID and did not come out unscathed. We discussed starting a new organization with a clean slate. We’re taking all of the mistakes and lessons learned over the past three years and using them as the foundation for a new beginning.

When we discussed starting a new organization, we honestly didn’t know what to expect. All we knew is we wanted it to be something special and different from other organizations. We got to work early in Summer 2020 on building. I reached out to a talented designer and friend, Kevin Weigel, to design our logo and uniforms and partnered with Takedown Sportswear for producing our apparel. The world of fastpitch softball is highly competitive and can be difficult to find players for a new organization absent a track record. We initially thought we wouldn’t have enough players to put together even a single team. Through much prayer and putting the word out, we had over 80 girls show up to tryouts giving us enough to put together a 12u and TWO 14u teams. Oh, I neglected to mention, Cory and I both made the move to 14u for our teams. God truly blessed us in the midst of adversity.

This is only the beginning of the story. We’ll see how the season goes … Coming Fall 2020: EXPRESS Fastpitch!

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Coach's Corner 04: New Beginnings
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