Hustle and Guts

Hustle and Guts

“Hustle and Guts” Written By Stacie Mahoe

One summer, I watched a few tournaments that reminded of a few fundamental softball lessons. One lesson was about hustle, the other was about integrity and guts in coaching.

Here’s what was going through my mind after that summer…

HUSTLE
No matter how you hit the ball, strong or weak, fair or foul always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS hustle down the line.

Hustle is your second weapon in an at bat. First, you hit the ball, then you RUN like heck!

The defense needs to first defend your hit THEN beat out your hustle. Make them PAY if they make a mistake.

Too many players slow down before first base. Even if you know you’re a “sure out” run it out. Some players slow down before the bag and only get out by a step or two. What if they actually sprinted? Maybe they beat out the throw? Maybe they rush the throw? Maybe they freak the first baseman out and she drops the ball. You never know what can happen, especially if you never try! Getting out by a step or two because you’re not hustling is just not the way to play. How can you expect to win a game when you won’t even work to win a base?

I’ve also seen batter runners dog it around the bases because they hit a high pop up they expect the defense to catch. Instead of sprinting and getting as many bases as possible, they’re jogging. In one game, this happened. You know what happened? The defender dropped the ball. But she still got the out at 2nd base because the batter/runner was lolly gagging between bases!

You know what else happened in that game?

The next batter got a hit, but no one scored because no one was on base. That team lost that game by ONE run! Hustle is HUGE. Make it a habit.

Stop pouting and feeling sorry for yourself because you mishit the ball. This game isn’t about you. It’s about your team! Give everything you got. If you’re giving up on hits, it’s time to step up your game. Stop selling yourself, and your team, short.

GUTS
The second lesson of the summer was about guts. More more coaches need the guts to reward players who play all out and sit those who don’t. Coaches don’t help anyone by awarding playing time to players who play and practice selfishly. Treating everyone exactly the same regardless of effort breeds mediocrity. Slackers learn they can slack and still play. Those who practice and play hard realize what they do doesn’t really matter. Next thing you know, your whole team starts playing selfish “go-hard-only-when-I-feel-like-it” softball. This presents a far bigger problem than playing a few innings or games without your “stud” in the line up.

Telling your players you expect their best effort and backing that message up with your actions are two different things. Stop preaching one thing but rewarding another. Back up your words with actions. When you create an environment where your players know that nothing less than their best is acceptable or tolerated, your season become much less stressful. Here’s to having the guts to honor the game.

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Olympic Softball Update 2020

Olympic Update

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Breaking from the tradition of awarding the Olympics only to a single host city, the IOC is opening the door to possible wider bids — including bids from an entire country, joint bids from more than one city and even the possibility of events held in more than one country.

The possibility of new types of bids was among the 40 recommendations released Tuesday as part of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach’s reform agenda, his drive to make the bidding process and the games themselves more attractive and less costly.

“We want to create more diversity in the candidatures,” Bach told a small group of reporters at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

Bach’s proposals also include scrapping the current limit of 28 sports for the Summer Games to allow for new events to come in while maintaining a limit of 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events. For the Winter Games, the limit is 2,900 athletes and 100 medal events.

The proposals would allow host cities to propose the inclusion of one or more events for their games — a move which would clear the way for baseball and softball to be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Both sports were dropped from the Olympics after the 2008 Beijing Games, but are highly popular in Japan.

The package also includes measures for revamping the bid process to make it more of a partnership with candidates, creating an Olympic television channel, and including language on non-discrimination on sexual orientation in the Olympic Charter and host city contract.

The proposals also call for the appointment of an IOC “compliance officer” on ethics matters and a slight tweak to the 70-year age limit for IOC members. A member’s term could be extended to the age of 74 if approved by the IOC, with no more than five cases at a time.

The reforms, called “Olympic Agenda 2020,” will be put to a vote by the full IOC at a special session in Monaco on Dec. 8-9. Barring any surprise, most or all the recommendations are expected to be passed.

“These 40 recommendations are like a jigsaw puzzle,” Bach said at the Olympic Museum. “The full picture is an IOC that safeguards the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and strengthens sport in society.”

Under the proposals, the IOC will allow “the organization of entire sports and disciplines outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”

That would be a first for the Summer Games. The IOC rules already allow for events to be held in a bordering country for the Winter Games.

“For Winter Games, if two countries are sharing a mountain, why not share a bid?” Bach said. “If you also have a city or region that can provide 95 percent of the facilities and 5 percent is missing, why not to open the door for them?”

In the Summer Olympics, some events — such as sailing and many of the preliminary-round football matches — are already held outside host cities. But Bach said the IOC is now ready to open the chance for country-wide and joint bids.

“In the Summer Games, it’s more about small or neighboring countries where you have distances which are manageable and feasible,” he said. “It also could be in one country. We want to have more diversity, to give smaller countries the opportunity to organize games.”

There has been a precedent for holding events outside the host country. Because of quarantine laws in Australia, the equestrian competition for the 1952 Melbourne Olympics was held in Stockholm.

Bach stressed, however, that the principle remains that there should be a “main organizing city” with an athletes village that serves as the center of the Olympic experience.

“We want to preserve the Olympic spirit,” he said. “To have the central Olympic Village and to have the athletes together, this is the core to our philosophy. We do not want to see this destroyed. We want the games with the unity of time, place and action which is part of the uniqueness of the Olympic Games.”

Softball Facemasks

The Diamond Is No Place For Drama

The Diamond Is No Place For Drama

“The Diamond Is No Place For Drama” Written By Stacie Mahoe

I once attended a a non-softball event which vividly reminded of the whole concept of “keeping the drama off the field.” This event lasted all day event and there was a little bit of trouble in the beginning, but things stayed under control. Until the end. When the event ended and everyone started packing up to go home, a fist fight broke out. This was not a fight among kids, or crazy fans, but amongst people who participated in these kinds of events.

Of course, the fight made the local newspaper. Only one line of the article spoke of the other more positive aspects of that event. Let’s face it, media loves drama. This fist fight made EVERYONE look bad, not just those who threw punches. Instead of keeping personal issues personal, these people brought their drama out into the public for everyone to see. All members of their community paid for the lack of maturity displayed by those few.

When you’re out in public representing your community, your “tribe, or your team, you represent the whole. You’re not viewed as individual parts. No matter what personal issues you have with your teammates, your best chance of success involves you putting aside personal differences. Softball is a TEAM sport. The best players know how to do what it takes (including dropping personal drama) so everyone performs at their best in competition.

Sports provides a great way to practice putting personal issues aside and making positive contributions to a team striving toward a common goal. It also provides opportunities for resolving conflict effectively. In competitive environments, opponents are out to take you down. People say and do whatever they can to take you off your game. If you want to be the best you can, you must learn HOW TO DEAL with all of that in a positive way.

If you’re still a competitive athlete, please use your opportunities to work on this through sports. I don’t want to see you on the news years from now as a 30-something-year-old looking silly because you don’t know how to handle the BS that gets thrown in your way or the conflict that arises in your life. Practice dealing with adversity through this game because, in real life, there’s so much more at stake than an error in the books, runs allowed, or a game lost.

Remember, any time you are part of a team, the team’s accomplishments or defeats often gets “attached” to you as a player. Others see you as part of a “losing team” or a “winning team.” But the opposite is also true. Your individual actions and words reflect on, and represent, your team as a whole. One of two can taint the reputation of the entire team. You best chance at softball success requires respect for the game, your team, and yourself. It requires that you conduct yourself well regardless of personal feelings or conflicts. Whenever you represent your team, there’s no room for personal drama. Put it aside. Better yet, work toward resolving it so you can play freely and successfully!

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Venezuela Wins Pan American Softball Qualifier

Venezuela wins men's softball qualifier for 2015 Pan American Games


“Venezuela wins Pan American softball Qualifier” Written By Bill Plummer

Canada and the USA dominated since softball made its Pan American Games debut in in 1979.
Canada won seven gold medals with the USA finishing runner-up each time for seven silver medals. The USA men compiled a record of 61-16 for a winning percentage of .792 with 15 of those losses to Canada. Men’s fast pitch was contested in the Pan American games from 1979-2003, then dropped from the program.

Men’s fast pitch, however, has been put back on the program for 2015 when the Games are held July 12-26 in Toronto, Canada. The qualifying tournament for Toronto was recently held in Parana, Argentina, which hosted the 1995 Pan American Games softball with the USA women and the Canadian men taking home gold medals. This time, however, Venezuela surprised host Argentina, 2-0, to win the qualifier with Canada third and the USA fourth.

The USA lost to Argentina, 3-1 to finish with an overall 4-4 record, but did qualify for the 2015 Pan American Games and the XIV Men’s World Championship, June 26- July 5th in Saskatoon, Sk. Men’s softball will join women’s softball at the 17th Pan American Games after a brief absence. Host Canada will be joined by the top five men’s countries – Venezuela, Argentina, USA, Dominican Republic, and Mexico – in the quadrennial multi-sport celebration for the Americas region in July 2015.

The 14th ISF Men’s World Championship also saw five more teams qualify and will join Czech Republic, Denmark, Great Britain, and host Canada in the line-up. The 2015 world championship is the final championship requiring teams to qualify following the 2009 decision to change to an open system.

“Tonight (Friday, November 1) was a tough loss for the team, but we also saw the resilience of our guys,” said USA Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). “These guys had their backs against the wall so many times throughout this tournament and proved that they will fight until the last pitch. We saw a lot of great things from the team, and are looking forward to continuing to grow as a team and program.”

Except for one game, losing 6-1 to the Dominican Republic, the USA men’s team held its own against the rest of the teams and were competitive with their other losses by two runs or less. The USA scored 14 runs while the opposition tallied 18 runs. The USA collected 35 hits while the opposition had 38 hits. The USA made six errors to the opponents’ six miscues. The USA lost to Argentina 3-1 in the fourth place game after beating Argentina 1-0 earlier in the competition. The USA also lost to Mexico, 2-1 (11 innings), and Canada 4-3, while beating Cuba 4-2, Guatemala, 1-0, and Venezuela 2-1 (nine innings).

As a team, the U.S. finished the tournament with a .175 batting average and were led by Pat Sagdal, who ended with a .250 (5-for-20) batting average and three RBI. From the circle, Tony Mancha finished the tournament with a 1-3 record, 55 strikeouts and a 1.60 ERA in 35 innings pitched.

Eight countries competed in the qualifier in round robin competition with the top four teams qualifying for the Page playoffs. Canada went 6-1 in the round robin with Venezuela and Argentina each 5-2 and the USA 4-3. Behind the top four were the Dominican Republic (3-4), Mexico (3-4) Guatemala (1-6) and Cuba (1-6). Cuba had a bronze medal in the 2003 Pan American Games

Venezuela, behind the pitching of Ramon Jones, shutout Argentina, 2-0, in the Grand Final. Jones allowed three hits and struck out 10 batters.
In the third inning, Venezuela scored the only two runs of the game. Jorge Lima led off with a double. Franklin Gonzalez then hit a two out inside-the-park home run scoring both himself and Lima.

At the bottom of the fourth inning, Argentina threatened. Francisco Sabaté led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third following two consecutive pass balls. The next batter, Bruno Motroni, walked (putting runners on the corners with no outs) and advanced to second on a Manuel Godoy ground out. Mariano Montero was later able load the bases after being hit by a pitch. But Jones was able to settle down, striking out both Ladislao Malarczuk and Juan Zara to end the inning unscathed.

Picking the Proper Travel Organization for Your Daughter!

“Picking the Proper Travel Organization for Your Daughter!” Written By Anthony Vertuccio

“Picking the Proper Travel Organization for Your Daughter!” Written By Anthony Vertuccio

There are so many travel organizations to choose from these days. Some have many teams at each level. Some have a just one at each level. Some only have one team in the whole organization. So how do you know which organization is the right fit for your daughter? (Note that I am saying “your daughter” and not you.)

Here are some tips on what questions you should ask and what to look for when making a decision:



1 What type of tournaments and/or leagues will the organization be entering?

2 Will the organization be traveling out of state, be doing local tournaments or a mix of both?

3 Is the coach a daddy coach or a former college player or is the coach someone who has experience but doesn’t have a daughter on the team? (Each type has its good/bad points…it up to you to see what you and your daughter are comfortable with)

4 If the organization has multiple teams at each level how are the teams formed? Are they mixed up or are they formed by talent with the most talented being the “A” team and the next talented the “B” team and so on. If your daughter makes the lower team will she have an opportunity to move up to the higher team?

5 How many times a week do they practice? Do the lower levels (12U and below) play in the spring?

6 Does the organization or do the coaches have any connections to college coaches?


7 Will the higher level team (16U and up) be going to college showcases or do you have to do that on your own? If your daughter isn’t interested in playing college ball but just wants to play for fun then there is nothing wrong with that. You should still ask because the college showcase will probably be an away trip and that’s added expenses.

8 What is the cost for the team? Is there a separate fee for Fall and Spring? How are the payments spread out?

9 How much fundraising will the team be doing?

10 How did your daughter enjoy the tryouts? Did she like the other players? This is the most important question as your daughter needs to be happy to enjoy her travel experience!

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Physical Training for Softball

Softball Training

“Physical Training for Softball” Written By Shannon McDougall

Softball is an anaerobic alactic sport of explosions lasting from approximately .07 seconds in the execution phase of a throw to consecutive explosions lasting 3-4 seconds when running out a base hit. It is a sport which also requires the anaerobic lactic energy system when running 2 bases or more (120 feet, 8-15 seconds). Although most of the activities generate most power from the lower body and mid-section, in the women’s game, we need to pay particular attention when designing strength training programs to include the upper body as they are generally stronger in the lower body by nature and weaker in the upper body. As a power sport, the most popular activities used in softball to develop explosive power as it relates to strength and speed have been plyometrics. This type of training increases the elasticity of the muscles by contracting them eccentrically and training their ability to retract very quickly after extending. This form of training is very beneficial to athletes in softball as it works to decrease the amount of time the muscles take to contract. A good strength training program is first necessary however, to maximize the effectiveness of the workouts and to fully utilize its benefits when on the field.

Athlete should not be doing high box drops as it is more beneficial for deceleration training such as with volleyball players and other vertical jumping sports. Young athletes younger than 19 should also not be considering weight training unless they have been adequately trained progressively from youth as the amount of damage that can be done to the body is dangerous and will not benefit their performance.

Softball utilizes the following physical components which are all enhanced by strength training:
*Agility
—infield positions
*Speed
—outfield positions
—base running
—pitching
*Maximum Strength
—Throwing
—explosive power in running
—hitting
—pitching
*Aerobic stamina
—base for all other energy systems
—enhanced recovery, regeneration
*Anaerobic Alactic
—all explosive actions
*Anaerobic Lactic
—Baserunning
—running down a fly ball
—pitching
*Balance
—all actions
*Flexibility
—Sliding
—injury prevention
—improves range of motion allows more leverage in skill execution
*Strength Endurance (although not the same strength endurance as required for a sport such as wrestling)
—Pitcher pitching
—Catcher throwing
—Baserunning

Following is a bioenergetic breakdown of the most used skills in softball:
*Pitching
—Preparation phase – 1.35 seconds
—Execution phase – 100% intensity for .18 seconds
—Follow through phase – .68
*Batting
—Preparation phase – .30 seconds
—Execution phase – 100% intensity for 1.67 seconds
—Follow through phase – .47 seconds
*Throwing
—Preparation phase – .33 seconds
—Execution phase – 100% intensity for .07 seconds
–Follow through phase – .23 seconds
—Base Running Home to 1st base
—Explosion off back foot – .167 seconds
—Home to first – 100% intensity for 3.267 seconds
—Deceleration – 1.24 seconds
—Base Running 2nd to Home – 100% intensity for 5.6 seconds

Muscles involved in almost all technical skills in softball:
*pectoralis major – serratus anterior – latissiumus dorsi
—throwing
—hitting
—fielding
*trapezius – rhomboids – deltoids
—hitting
—throwing
*biceps – biceps brachii – brachialis
—hitting
—throwing
*triceps – triceps brachii – teres minor
—hitting
—throwing
*infraspinatus – teres major – subscapular
—throwing
—pitching
—hitting
*erector spinae – serape musculature – gluteus maximus / minimus
—all skills requiring balance
—running
*hamstrings – gatrocnemius – trapezius
—running
—hitting
—pitching
*gluteus maximus – external oblique – tensor fasciae latae
—all rotation activities
—quadriceps – illiopsoas – rectus femoris
—all rotation activities
—running
*soleus
—running
—hitting

An approximation of the muscle fiber type distribution for a successful athlete in softball (i.e. % Type 1 vs % Type II).

Softball is a sport requiring very quick movements drawing from the ATP-CP energy system in which the action is performed predominantly with the fast twitch or type 2b muscle fibers. It is however the Type 1 muscle fibers which are used to initiate all activities and to maintain our body positions while in the ready position etc. An athlete who has more fast twitch muscle fibers than slow twitch muscle fibers, will generally adapt to the training in a softball program much easier. It is not known exactly the percentages of type 1 to type 2 fibers are used in softball however I believe that an outfielder would use more slow twitch fibers as their level of intense activity while on the field is much lower than the level of intensity of the pitcher or an infielder.

The slow twitch muscle fibers are much more active in long duration aerobic activities in which carbon dioxide, water and heat are produced as a byproduct of exercise. It has been shown that although fast twitch muscle fibers cannot achieve any slow twitch muscle fiber characteristics, the type 2a or transitional muscle fibers can attain fast twitch muscle fiber qualities through proper training, in the early developmental stages of young athletes. This is important in designing training programs and when training young athletes as we want to ensure that the athletes do not spend too much time developing the slow twitch muscle fibers adapting the type 2a muscle fibers to slow twitch muscle fibers instead.

These types of muscular action are predominant in softball. Following is the percentage of importance (as it relates to training) of concentric, eccentric and isometric muscular contractions.

Softball is predominantly an explosive power sport which includes both concentric and eccentric muscular contractions. In exploding off a base for example, the concentric muscular contractions of the quadriceps, glutes, and gastrocnemeus muscles work with the eccentric muscular contractions of the hamstrings and the tibialis anterior muscles. The sprinting after requires the recruitment of both eccentric and concentric muscular contractions and even isometric contractions when coming to a stop after running through first base or after crossing home plate. Isometric muscular contractions in softball do not require the same force such as when wrestling, although they are utilized when waiting in the ready position on the field or when waiting for the ball to come when up to bat.

Although strength derived from concentric action is required in the muscles to produce the maximum force in skill execution, the majority of injuries sustained in softball are due to the deceleration phase of a skill which incorporates eccentric muscular contractions. Training the muscles adequately to prevent injury during this follow through phase of a skill, requires eccentric contractions to be emphasized during training. In attaining this benefit, the athlete would in their weight training program, emphasize the deceleration phase of the resistance exercise lasting 2 seconds, taking twice as long to undo the exercise as it did to do the exercise which is approximately 1 second. In the early stages of strength training, when muscular hypertrophy is the aim of training, eccentric contractions are better emphasized as it produces higher force than concentric contractions which facilitates the muscle fiber growth. When the strength training is the goal then the concentric contractions again become the focus.

Strength training recommendations for softball athletes

An overall strength training program with a solid aerobic base is important as it builds the foundation for the explosive power training that is most dominant in softball. It will also enhance the other important aspects of softball such as speed and muscular endurance. Strength and flexibility training in addition to joint stabilizing activities will also assist in decreasing vulnerability to injury, as well as assisting with a quicker recovery from injury. Finally but not lastly, a comprehensive strength training program will increase the athletes resting metabolism which helps to reduce body fat contributing to increasing V02max.

The following considerations need to be included when developing a strength training program
*athletes current fitness level
*athletes age
*athletes maturation level
*athletes psychological condition
*athletes medical status
*athletes level of experience
*athletes nutrition level
*athletes athletic goals

Although all athletes in softball should be equally strong in all areas, there are specific position considerations such as for infielders who will require more stabilization exercises around the knees to prevent injury as a result of quick side to side movement from a cold or semi-cold position. Outfielders will need to work on more sprinting activities for running down fly balls and covering infielders and each other on the field. Catchers and pitchers will need to work more on their arm strength endurance as they can throw or pitch over 90 times per game. The catcher will not only be throwing to the pitcher after every pitch but will also be throwing hard to 1st, 2nd or 3rd bases for pick off throws. It is important to vary the training program every 3 to 4 weeks by changing the weights or the days that the weights are done on. The training program can have the same focus while not allowing the body to adapt without getting stale.

Look for symptoms of over training
*unusual sleep patterns
*lack of motivation
*decreased appetite
*lean body weight loss
*increased irritability and anxiety
*depression
*decreased sex drive
*The first week of each training cycle should include an assessment, such as:
*Aerobic Power – 8 minute run
*Agility – shuttle run
*Balance – flamingo stance
*Coordination – hand slap test
*Explosive Power – standing long jump
*Flexibility – zipper test and modified sit and reach

Muscular Endurance
*half push-up (upper body)
*abdominal bridge (core)
*wall press (lower body)

Muscular Strength
*maximum number of push-ups (upper body)
*maximum number of sit-ups (core)

Reaction Time
*ruler test

Speed
*30 m dash

Following is a chart with the 1st week of 4 training cycles which progress through the YPI. During the season, weight training can be done post competition at minimal intensity as it would be a good cool down for the athletes and the would not have to worry about it the next day. Light plyometric activities can be done as part of the pre-game or pre-practice warm up however not too stressful to prevent unwanted stress on the joints.

Warm-up and cool-down plans for softball players, in a typical training session

Identifying:
1 The environment in which your warm-up is conducted
2 Individual components of your warm-up and the order in which they are conducted
3 Duration’s for these components
4 Specific drills, movements and or activities you would implement for individual components

Pre – Competition Warm-Up and Cool-Down
*Use static stretching only to inventory muscle injuries
*Activity Purpose Time (minimum)

Slow aerobic jog 10-15 minutes
*light jog
*adapted game such as soccer, flag football etc.
*Heat muscles / Lubricate the joints 15 minutes

Dynamic Stretching 10 minutes
*side kicks
*butt kicks
*back pedals
*leg swings
*carioca
*Increase range of movement
*Prepare the body for activity
*improve range of motion
*use static stretching to check injuries

Acceleration strides 2-3 minutes
*wind sprints
*baserunning
*side to side hops
*increase blood circulation and oxygen intake
*gradually increase intensity until game speed is attained
*can incorporate plyometric activities here

Event specific drills
*throwing and fielding
*batting and bunting
*coordination preparation for training/competition 10 minutes

Cool Down 5 minutes
*Activity Purpose Time (minimum)
*Slow aerobic jog – Lowers body, muscles

Light static stretching 15 minutes
*long duration
*some PNF stretching
*relax muscles
*improve flexibility
*mentally relax

Softball is a quick movement sport with many breaks in between actions. It is critical to ensure overall training rather than simply focusing on one aspect of physical training such as speed or strength. Designing a training plan within a yearly training plan will best assure that your athletes will be best prepared for when the main completion part of the season arrives. Include aerobic training to enhance recovery for back to back games and to assist in preventing injuries.

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Why Winning Is Over-Rated

Why Winning Is Over-Rated

“Why Winning Is Over-Rated” Written By Stacie Mahoe

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the ONLY thing.” Honestly, that quote doesn’t quite do it for me. It may sound good as a “slogan.” It may look cool on t-shirts or bumper stickers. I’m sure some people find it motivating. But the truth is, it’s totally and completely false. You may or may not agree with me, but in my world, that saying just doesn’t work for a number of reasons…

First of all, IF winning truly was everything OR the “only” thing, gripes and grumbling would be non-existent on championship teams. Fan, players, coaches, and parents alike would all be complaint free if winning was the only thing. If you’ve ever been around a championship team, you know that’s not always the case. Why?

BECAUSE THERE IS MORE TO THIS GAME, TO THIS EXPERIENCE, THAN WINNING!

Don’t get me wrong. Winning is great! Championships are awesome! Any time I step on the field I’m out there to out-do my opponent and come out on top. However these things are not the end all, be all of participating in this sport or any other.

Stick around the world of sports long enough and you’ll run into coaches, parents, or players who will tell you, first hand, that winning isn’t all champagne and roses. You may also meet people who’ve experienced more enjoyment and fulfillment from seasons that didn’t end with the best record. How would that even be possible if winning was “everything?”

In this game, in life….winning is NOT everything NOR the only thing.

When all is said and done, I don’t want people remembering me only for championships, but also for positive qualities like integrity, honesty, determination, and inspiration. In fact, if I had to choose between championships OR those positive qualities, I’d choose to be remembered for those positive qualities. Champions come and go. Most people don’t even remember who the champion was 5 years ago, much less a decade or two. Most people won’t even remember your exact stats or win-loss records. What a shame it would be to be known for a championship or two and nothing else.

I am reminded, though, that while winning isn’t everything, striving to be your absolute best, is. Excellence rarely happens when all you’re after is a trophy. Excellence happens when you love what you do and dedicate yourself to giving everything you got day in and day out. The trophy? That simply comes as a byproduct of your commitment to doing the little things right over and over and over again.

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Eight People Honored At ASA/USA National Softball Hall Of Fame Banquet

Softball Hall Of Fame Banquet

RENO — Eight individuals received softball’s highest honor on Saturday evening as the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball inducted seven members to the National Softball Hall of Fame and one individual into the International Softball (ISF) Hall of Fame.

“Congratulations to all of the inductees and to current ASA/USA Softball Hall of Fame Member RB Thomas for his induction into the ISF Hall of Fame,” said ASA/USA Executive Director Craig Cress. “This is such a great event for all current, past and future inductees and we’re very proud to honor these individuals for their accomplishments.”

Held in Reno, Nev., the 34th Annual celebration honored the National Softball Hall of Fame Class of 2014, which consisted of Fast Pitch player Darryl Day (Hilton Head, S.C), Slow Pitch player Craig Elliott (Wadley, Ala.), Umpire Ted Germain (Mayville, Mich.), Fast Pitch player Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.), Manager Tommy Orndorff (Vienna, Va.), Meritorious Service Ron Radigonda (Edmond, Okla.) and Sponsor Bruce Tanski (Clifton Park, N.Y.). Also inducted during the Saturday evening ceremony was RB Thomas (Manassas, Va.), who was inducted into the ISF Hall of Fame.

Read more about the 2014 ASA Hall of Fame Class:

Darryl Day (Hilton Head, S.C.) – Fast Pitch Player

If attitude is a key to winning, there was little doubt that Darryl Day would be anything but a winner. Darryl started his softball career with a local Aurora, Ill. softball league before word of his talent reached the notable men’s fast pitch team Aurora Home Savings. Throughout his 15 years of play in ASA/USA Men’s Major Fast Pitch, Day collected four first team All-American titles, three second team All-American accolades and earned one National Championship and six runner-up finishes. Starting in 1973, Darryl was a mainstay for the Home Savings for eight years, during which time he led the team to the Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship every year. Day’s strong glove at first base helped lead the Home Savings to four-consecutive runner-up finishes before ending his career with the team in 1980 with a career average of .370. The following year, Day joined the Decatur ADM, where he would earn his first ASA/USA National Championship that same year. During his four years with Decatur ADM, Day led the team to a 409-77 record and finished with a career average of .358 with 173 RBI and 26 home runs. It’s no wonder why many of the best pitchers in the world regarded Day as one of the most difficult batters to retire. Day also made a name for himself on the international scene, playing for the USA Men’s Fast Pitch Team in 1979 at the Pan American Games where the team earned silver. He also played three years for the Men’s East Team at the U.S. Olympic Festival.

Craig Elliott (Wadley, Ala.) – Slow Pitch Player

For years, Craig Elliot was considered as the top slow pitch player by a lot of people, a title which he earned by dominating men’s slow pitch softball at the highest level. A menace at the plate, Elliott became one of the most feared hitters in the men’s slow pitch world and could change the game with one swing of the bat. Beginning in 1977, Elliott collected 11-consecutive ASA All-American titles and earned tournament MVP accolades three times. He also earned the home run leader title in 1983, ’85 and ’86. His best performance, however, came during the 1983 season when he hit 390 home runs for a HR-to-at bat ratio of 1.93. With the legendary Steele’s team, Elliott collected three ASA Men’s Super Slow Pitch National Championship titles and finished runner-up once. Elliott was also one of very few players to be selected MVP of the ASA Smoky Mountain Classic. His close friend a teammate once claimed: “You could put a quarter in him, and he would hit home runs all day long.”

Ted Germain (Mayville, Mich.) – Umpire

You’d be hard pressed to find an umpire who’s worked an ASA/USA Softball National Championship as often as Michigan native Ted Germain. Ted first registered as an umpire with the Michigan ASA in 1976, establishing a long and storied career as one of the most respected fast pitch and modified pitch umpires. Germain umpired in nine Men’s Major Modified National Championships, one Men’s 40-Over Fast Pitch National Championship, one Men’s Class A Fast Pitch National Championship and three Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championships for a total of 14 National Tournament assignments. He also umpired in 36 State Championships and eight National Qualifying Tournaments. Germain also served as an Umpire-in-Chief (UIC) in 42 State Championships, 11 National Qualifying Tournaments and three Great Lakes Regional Tournaments. Ted became a member of the National Indicator Fraternity in 1995, became ISF certified in 1998 and is a member of the ASA Medals Program at the Elite level. Germain also appeared on the international scene, umpiring at the 2007 World Cup of Softball. Germain served as a member of the Michigan ASA State Umpire staff from 1991-2007 and was inducted into the Michigan ASA Hall of Fame in 1991. Sadly, Ted passed away earlier this year, but his legacy will live on.

Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) – Fast Pitch Player

A two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Stacey Nuveman will go down in history as one of the best catchers in the history of fast pitch softball. Nuveman competed in three Olympic Games, capturing the Gold at the 2000 and 2004 Games while claiming the silver at the 2008 games. Nuveman first wore the Red, White and Blue in 1995 when she earned Gold at the ISF Junior Women’s World Championship in Normal, Ill. where she set a tournament record with 18 RBI. Her impressive power at the plate and strong performance behind it landed her a spot on the Women’s National Team, where she would earn two Pan American Gold Medals and two ISF World Championships. On the national level, Nuveman won two ASA/USA National Championships with the Gordon’s Panthers, coached by fellow Hall of Fame member Larry Mays. She also earned a second-team ASA All-American honor with the California Jazz. Nuveman retired following the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, leaving behind an Olympic Legacy with 10 RBI and three home runs. In 2012, Nuveman, along with the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team, was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

Tommy Orndorff (Vienna, Va.) – Manager

At the Junior Olympic (JO) level, the Shamrocks, led by coach Tommy Orndorff, have established a tradition in fast pitch softball that’s hard to match. Since their first national appearance in 1977, the Shamrocks have been a force in the JO world, qualifying for 25 ASA/USA National Championships and finishing in the top 10 on nine occassions. In the early years of the Shamrock organization, not many East coast teams competed competitively, but once Coach Orndorff organized the Shamrock organization that completely changed. In their 25 appearances at the ASA/USA National Championships, the Shamrocks earned a total of eight top-five finishes, including a runner-up at the 2003 18U GOLD. In 2005, they earned the ultimate title in JO Championship Play as the 18U GOLD National Champions.

Ron Radigonda (Edmond, Okla.) – Meritorious Service

Under his 15 years of leadership as Executive Director, the face of ASA/USA Softball evolved dramatically. Prior to accepting the Executive Director position, Radigonda worked with the City of Sacramento in the Parks and Recreation Department for 28 years and also served as Executive Director of the Sacramento Sports Commission and the Sacramento Sports Foundation. In 1982, he became the Commissioner of the Sacramento ASA, where he served as Chair of numerous committees and served on the Board of Directors and as the Chair of the Association’s Insurance and Finance Committees. During his tenure as Executive Director, the ASA Hall of Fame Complex has undergone major renovations and has continued its hosting duties for the NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS), and the World Cup of Softball, an international softball event. He also helped foster a continuing relationship with the City of Oklahoma City. At the International Level, Radigonda has served as a delegate and committee chair for the International Softball Federation (ISF), the governing body of softball internationally.

Bruce Tanski (Clifton Park, N.Y.) – Sponsor

The New York Gremlins have made a name for himself on the softball field thanks to Bruce Tanski, who has sponsored the team for over 40 years. Tanski’s commitment led to a long and storied career with ASA for the Gremlins, including a recent runner-up finish at the Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship in 2013 and a Championship in 2012. Since 1987, Tanski’s teams appeared in 14 National Championships, earning four third-place finishes and two runner-up titles.

The 35th induction ceremony will take place at the 84th Annual ASA/USA Softball Meeting, which will be held October 31 – November 6 in Louisville, Ky. Rules and guidelines to nominate potential Hall of Fame candidates for 2016 are available at USASoftball.com. There is a deadline submission of September 1, 2015.

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How To Train In The Off Season

How to Train in the Off Season

“How to Train in the Off Season” Written By Keri Casas

The off-season is extremely important for the development of female athletes.  Many parents allow their athletes to take a break from training when their season is over and this could hurt them in the long run.

When athletes are in season, their main focus is on practice, tournaments, and playing almost every weekend.  It is difficult for athletes to really grow and develop individually in this time as their attention is on their team.  When in season, the team must perform as a unit to accomplish their goals, leaving little room for the betterment of an individual athlete.  Sure, female athletes will continue to train, take lessons, and practice throughout a season, but it is to maintain and perform at their skill level consistently.  Making alterations to an athlete in the middle of the season could hinder her playing ability and affect her team performance.

The best time to develop young, female athletes is in the off season.  During this time, athletes have the ability to make changes, develop their skills, and mature without the consequences of it affecting their game.  When a female athlete wants to better their skills, they tend to go backwards first, then with practice, refine their newly-learned skill.

The reason why female athletes’ skills diminish before they get better is simply because they are stubborn.  Once they have learned something, female athletes tend to be set in their ways and refuse to change what is “working”.  When a newly-learned skill is not perfect, they don’t like it, don’t want to do it, and don’t want to change it.  This is WHY we have the off season; to work through both physical and mental issues with female athletes.  Now, I’m not saying it is easier to deal with stubborn, female athletes in the off season, but it does give an instructor or coach more time to work with them individually.  Female athletes need a lot of direction, especially when they do not want to change something, and the off season allows them to work on things without the pressures of playing in a tournament on the weekend.

So how should my female athlete train in the off season?

Get your athlete into private lessons.  The best way to give them the individualized attention is to do so through private instruction.  This allows the athlete to connect with an adult who has played the game, has the time to work with her for an extended period, and wants to help your athlete grow. This does not necessarily mean that your athlete needs to be in lessons every day, every week, but it does help to develop skills more quickly.  Giving the athlete the opportunity to take private lessons allows them to receive quality information that both she and her parent can take home to practice.  Not only will private lessons help, but with it being the off season, the athlete has more time to work on her skills without worrying about school, excessive practices, tournaments, and traveling.  This is their time to develop their skills and show as a better athlete when the season comes around.

I do understand that competitive sports tend to have a minimal off season, and many young athletes are burnt out by the time spring and fall seasons are over.  With many sports only having a 1-2 month break between seasons, it is understandable that parents want their athletes to still enjoy being a child.  With this said, I still do not believe this means “taking a break” from any and all training.  An athlete can definitely tone down their playing time to enjoy being a child, to focus on their school work, and to have time with their friends.

The best way to encourage training with your female athlete that wants to socialize in the off season is to create a daily schedule allowing them time for school, friends, and sport.  Having something written out and displayed for your female athlete gives them structure for a daily routine that will not hinder their athletics or academics.  This is also a great way to show your athlete that all of their time is NOT consumed by sport, but equally shared between their wants and needs.

It is greatly important to understand that the off season is the best time for a female athlete to grow and develop into a successful player.  Giving them instruction and practice time without the pressure of needing to “be ready” by the weekend tournament is vital to their successful development.

Key Points for Training in the Off Season 

1. Female athletes are stubborn and set in their ways.  They need time, patience, and consistent instruction to develop better skills.
 
2. The off season is really “training season”.  An athlete’s skill level will typically remain the same during the season as they are focused on being part of a team rather than an individual.  The off season is best to allow the athlete to focus on themselves.
 
3. Allow your athlete to be a child.  Just because you want them to train in the off season does not mean you have to take away socializing.  Create a daily schedule that allows an athlete to focus on school work, spend time with their friends, and develop as a female athlete.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect Written By Mike Adams

Practice Makes Perfect Written By Mike Adams

Why do players practice? These are some observations I have made through my years coaching on practice motivation:

To socialize

To show the coach and others how good I am

To get tired running drills

To be there so I am not cut from playing the next game

To show off my new equipment

To eat sunflower seeds and drink a power drink

To find out when the next game is

If you disagree with all of the above you probably have a bright future in politics. When I get a team, one of the first things I like to spend time on is explaining what a practice is for and why it is important to understand why we practice. I use simple bullet points along with an explanation of my beliefs on why they are important. Some of these are coach based, some are player based and some apply to both. Here goes:

Show up on time for practice. As this has been mentioned in many other articles, it is not mentioned enough. When I say “on time for practice”, I don’t mean show up at 5 o’clock for a 5 o’clock practice. I mean show up BEFORE 5 o’clock with enough time to hang your gear bag and start stretching and warming up. This way actual practice can start at 5. I realize some teams like to stretch and warm up together. This is fine, but to me that is not practice time and I don’t count it as such. A good stretch and warm up should take no less than 15 minutes. With a 2 hour practice, that is 1/8th of the entire practice.

Know what drills are going to be worked on during that practice. This is important for both players and coaches. In todays social/internet age, there should be no reason that a practice plan should not be shared with the players and other coaches. Sidebar: if you are a coach and don’t have a plan on what you are going to do during a practice at least a day before, you might want to think about why you are coaching. Coaching successfully takes work. By letting the players know what the plan for the practice will be, you spend less time explaining to the players what you want them to do and what to expect. I don’t realistically expect all of my players to fully understand a drill, but they will have at least a starting point. By having to explain drills at each practice, you are losing about 5 minutes per drill. At an average of 4 drills, there goes 20 minutes. Don’t forget in the drills you need to have player flow. By player flow I am referring to knowing how you will rotate players. I have been in practices where the coach spent 1 minute between each rotation to set the players where they wanted them. With 15 players, that math makes an easy 15 minutes disappear.

Incorporate multiple player drills. Single player drills are a huge big time waster and loses a players attention. Lining up girls on second base and going through each player one at a time annoys me every time I see it. 15 players, each hit takes about 5 seconds from hit, to catch, to relay, back to the hitter. That means a little over 1 minute for each player and after they are doing nothing. So each round there is ~15 player/minutes wasted. Adding another hitter and 2 lines breaks it down to ~7.5 player minutes. Having the fielding player flip it to another acting as a baseman and then the throw back in to the hitter, adds <2 seconds as players rotate into position, but the additional player cuts player down time to ~4 player/minutes wasted and adds extra practice time in the rotation. A quick change in the drill just decreased the wasted practice time per player by ~1/3.

Keeping in line with drills, I also like to put on the drill sheet the reason why the drill is being done. I can’t think of one drill that is done just for the heck of it. Sure, if you are a new coach, you might do a drill because you saw someone else do it, but if you think real hard you can probably figure out what the drill is for. As a player, I also challenge you to know why a drill is done. Don’t be a whining player that asks “why, why, why?”. But there is nothing wrong with asking a coach nicely, “Hey coach, is this drill supposed to help me run faster?”, or “What am I to be learning from this drill so I can concentrate on it”. A good sample of why it is important to have the players know why a drill is being done is batting from a pitching machine. Why do we bat from a machine? There are many reasons, but the 2 strongest reasons are consistency and to save the coaches arm! Consistency is the real reason. You don’t want the batter to worry about watching for balls vs. strikes, or timing as much as concentrating on the other aspects like stance, follow through, direction of hit, etc… If the player didn’t know this, they may think they are doing well by just hitting the ball every time rather than concentrating on the items you want to drill into them. We do a drill called “junk pitch practice”, basically they are to swing at every pitch, regardless of where it is (fyi this is at a lower level of team) and what I explain to the players is the drill is for eye hand coordination. If you swing at the same place every time, you are relying on the pitcher pitching to where your bat is. That isn’t the game, and a good pitcher won’t throw that way. To be successful, you need to hit where the ball is. Then I explain I don’t expect them to swing at everything during a game. I have, however, seen many home runs hit from outside the strike zone.

Players should be making mistakes. Before you freak out, let me explain. Some coaches love to say give 110% percent during a game. I disagree. anything over 100% is unknown. Giving 100% is the maximum you can give, as long as you know where the line is. Practice is where I like to see players find that line. The only true way to find the line is to cross it. Cross it several times and you will be able to push that line. I find nothing funnier when someone after skiing or snowboarding boasts on how little they fell. Personally I fall A LOT and often on camera. Why? Because I push my boundaries. The first time down a black diamond on my snowboard was pretty eventful. I spent more time on my butt or rolling then I did snowboarding. The next time it was less butt time. I kept it up until I could slowly make it down without falling. So am I done? No. Making it down slowly without falling was one “line”. Next time down I increased my speed, pushing back that 100% line. Yup, more butt time. Eventually I could do it faster and better. Move it to softball, if you are an outfielder, and you can pretty much catch any popup that gets near you, it is time to move that line. Ask the coach to put the ball further and further away from you until can’t catch it with any consistency. Now during a game, you know where your line is and if you can realistically catch it. During practices is where you push. Its where missing that catch is ok, as long as you are trying your hardest, and you keep trying until that ball is caught.

Learn from mistakes. Although this is also important during a game, I feel it applies during a practice as well. I tell my players that everyone makes mistakes, how a player reacts to that mistake separates good from great. I love to have drills in my arsenal that teach reacting to mistakes. A common mistake is a grounder take a weird hop (or player not paying attention) and skips by them. I don’t know about you, but I see quite a few of players in a game just stand there looking at their coach or parent for that “you screwed up” stare. Mistake #1 was made as the ball got by, mistake #2 was made when nothing was done to recover. I like to line up ss and 2nd and send a ball straight to 2nd base, have them call it, go to catch it, but let it go by. Now, after the ball is passed, then make the play; who is covering 2nd? who is going after the ball? At a younger age (ok, even older) I like to practice overthrowing first. I make a very bad throw to first. Some times 1st base can catch it, sometimes not. I see a lot of teams practice ideal situations. I like to drill the bad, so they know how to react to a mistake.

Practice doesn’t always make perfect. It is up to the players and the coaches to have a practice environment that pushes the players to be perfect knowing there should be, and will be mistakes along the way. For you that were keeping count, not including drink breaks, shown in the bad examples above, each player during a 2 hour practice would get less than 55 minutes of actual practice time.

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Who DOES Go On To Become Successful?

Who DOES Go On To Become Successful?" Written By Charlie Marchese


“Who DOES Go On To Become Successful?” Written By Charlie Marchese

I think it’s time that somebody wrote a piece like this. For a change, this is coming from a “crazy” sports parent, who actually believes that his way is the right way. One who is tired of being judged as being a “lunatic” or too serious about sports. One who sits by silently while the “sane” parents encourage mediocrity in their own children, whether they have any talent or not. Ironically, most of the “normal” people’s kids, eventually fade out of the sports world, as their kids can no longer compete. Certainly there is nothing wrong with that, but there is also, nothing long with kids excelling and continuing on to bigger and better things within the sports world, with their families cheering them on, all the way. That being said, let’s examine this issue a little closer.

Who DOES go on to become a successful college athlete, student and adult? Is it the child whose parents look the other way while their child is simply more talented and dedicated than the others? The parent that knows the odds are against his/her child from playing professionally, or even at the collegiate level? Or is it the child whose parent spends countless hours on the practice fields, one on one, honing their skills, strengthening their resolve, fine tuning their bodies, promoting physical fitness, all the while creating a highly productive work ethic to carry them through their childhood, into their adult lives? If you think their efforts are being misplaced on the athletic fields, think again. The same kids that are excelling on the fields, are often the ones excelling in the classroom. Why is that?

Perhaps it’s because these “lunatics” are actually doing something wonderful for their child? Spending tremendous amounts of quality time with their families, within the framework of athletics. Keeping them off their cell phones, ipads, video games, and computers, where they are unsupervised, unchecked, and uninhibited by their virtual anonymity on these devices. Trust me, “sane” people, your little “gamer” is not as sweet and innocent as you think he/she is. Take a look at the kids that are smoking in the boys/girls room or involved in bullying incidents at their schools and I’ll guarantee you, a very small percentage of them are the kids on the athletic teams.

The athletes have a focus that has been drilled into them from a young age. They have discipline that the others will never understand. They have an inner strength that will carry them through their childhood, into college, into the job market, and eventually into their own parenting. Guess who instilled these traits into their kids? You guessed it! The lunatic dad that pushed them to be better versions of themselves, every step of the way.

We live in the “everybody ties” generation. Nobody is allowed to win and more importantly, nobody is allowed to lose….ever. It probably explains why the country is in such bad shape. Nobody wants to earn anything anymore. Why would they? They’re being taught that they don’t need to. Just wait until they’re applying for their first real job. They don’t get the position and want to know why. “What do you mean, I didn’t get it, doesn’t everybody get the job?” It should go to the most qualified applicant. Ironically, that’s usually the one that worked the hardest. Guess who works the hardest on the fields? Right again, the kid whose parents expected more of them and helped them to get there.

Losing is part of life. It hardens your resolve and helps you to achieve greater wins down the road. It teaches lessons that cannot be learned otherwise. It’s ok to lose, somebody has to, but it’s not ok to accept defeat. Exceptional people in all walks of life, never accept losing. They continue to try harder and harder until they win, or succeed in whatever they are trying to achieve. Sports are meant to be fun, but the real fun lies in success. Pushing success in children creates a positive mindset and track record for the future. Why does it seem to be ok to push kids in the classroom, but not on the athletic field? Why is it ok for kids to practice music for countless hours, but not athletics?

Next time you’re at the field, look around to see who’s succeeding. I bet more often than not, it’s the kids with the parents that are “crazy”. They may even raise their voice on occasion, or get on their kid for not hustling or giving 100% effort. I’ll also bet those same kids are the ones succeeding in the classroom, in the workplace, and in their family lives. Maybe us “lunatics” are on to something!

Fastpitch Magazine

Happiness Versus Joy

Happiness Versus Joy


“Happiness Versus Joy” Written By Charity Butler

“It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking, ‘How did he know to put the pursuit part in there?’ …Maybe happiness is something we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it… How did he know that?”

–Will Smith as Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is exhausting, but our comfort-crazed culture demands the quest for more. If we win more, lose more weight, have more sex, earn more respect, find more love, make more money, buy more stuff, take more vacations, maybe then we will be happy?!

YOLO, the notion that “You Only Live Once,” has become the cultural anthem. The idea suggests that to be happy: get what you can… while you can… right now.

The truth is not that we only live once; it is that we only die once. We live every single day.

YOLO promotes the pursuit of happiness, but YLED (You Live Every Day), can unlock true joy.

Research Professor Dr. Brene Brown clarifies the difference in joy and happiness. She describes “happiness as an emotion that is connected to circumstances, and… joy as a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.”

When I speak to students across America about making good choices, I always pose the following questions: “Is it possible for mountains to exist without valleys? Can we experience highs without lows?”

The answers help us more tangibly grasp the difference in happiness and joy.

As students process their answers, their faces contort, and I can actually see their minds engage. They sometimes wonder if I am setting them up! “Is this a trick question?”
The obvious answer, though, is “no, highs do not exist without lows. If there are no lows, everything is the same. Everything is flat.”

I then exclaim, “I don’t know about you, but I want to experience the big, awesome, mountaintop things this life has to offer! [Pause.] If we want to experience the mountaintops, though, we must be willing to sometimes walk through the valley.”

The mountaintops are happy and worth the struggle, but we cannot reach the top without first walking through the valley. Valleys are not comfortable. They hurt. The valley is anything but happy, yet we can discover joy even in those low and difficult places.

When in “low places,” numbing the sting of difficult circumstances seems natural and is definitely desired. When we use drugs, alcohol, food, work, unhealthy relationships, emotional disconnection, bridled ambition or any other number of options to numb our lives and avoid the valley, we set ourselves up to live flat lives.

The truth is: we cannot selectively numb. This means we cannot habitually numb the bad in our lives without also numbing the good. No matter the method for achieving it, numb is flat.

Abandoning a secure, flat life is risky. It makes us vulnerable to pain and failure. Mountain climbing is not for wimps!

One of the most prolific over-comers of our time, the late Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

When we gather the courage to trek toward the top, regardless of the setbacks and momentary losses of happiness, we discover what blogger Leo Babauta tabs “JoyFear”.

“Every single defining moment in my life has been filled with Joyfear,” says Babauta, “with a mixture of intense joy and intense fear into one ball of powerful emotions that both lift me up and make me see things clearly when I hadn’t before… Having only joy is great. Having only fear sucks. But having both … that’s life-defining.”

To reach the mountaintops, we must be willing to experience JoyFear along the way. We must face fear. This requires vulnerability. Dr. Brown shares, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory [mountaintops] or defeat [valleys], it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”

To truly experience joy, we must be “all in” regardless of our current circumstances. Remember, joy is “a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.” Dr. Brown continues, “I use the word practicing because [my] research participants spoke of tangible gratitude practices, more than merely having an attitude of gratitude or feeling grateful… They gave specific examples of gratitude practices… keeping gratitude journals and gratitude jars [or] implementing family gratitude rituals.”

As I close this article, I choose to practice gratitude. At this moment, my grandfather is drawing is last breaths. Death is the lowest of all valleys. I am not happy. Tears cascade down my cheeks as I type these words.

I am, however, full of gratitude. I am thankful for his 87 years of influence and positive impact. He leaves a legacy that teaches me to be courageous, to experience life’s mountains and valleys to the fullest. I am thankful I will see him again one day. Yes, joy can thrive in the valley.

Novelist and poet, C.S. Lewis, is both concise and precise in his speculation, “I sometimes wonder whether all [happy] pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”

Pleasures are safe and easy, but they are never enough. Why settle for pleasures that only counterfeit joy? Pleasures alone are flat and empty, but the thrill of climbing life’s mountains and navigating its valleys while daily practicing gratitude, now that is living.

YOLO: You Only Live Once = Happy

YLED: You Live Every Day = Joy

The choice is yours.

Fastpitch Magazine

Part-Time Coaches

Part Time Coaches

Part-Time Coaches Written By Charlie Dobbins, Head Coach, William Peace University

Our profession still has many part-time coaches — both head and assistant —
that balance two lives while contributing to the game. I know that personally, having spent 15 years as a part-time coach.

There is a major disconnect between the people at the top (college and university administrators) and part-time coaches. Most of the time, athletic directors understand the commitment and loyalty generated by their part-time staff. Many of us serve on committees with the NFCA and NCAA.


Turnover is huge, though. Many schools have great young coaches, but lose them to another program or to a more stable profession.


It amazes me that with the visibility given to an athletic team and the coach being the face of the program and main recruiter of athletes to the program, that they don’t put more emphasis on developing and keeping coaching talent.


Each coach has to evaluate if they can thrive in a part-time situation. Understand what it is — a part-time job, for low pay and little or no benefits.

Most of these coaches fall into two categories. Either they are young and just out of college, possibly just having finished a playing career, or they are older retired or semi-retired individuals who have passion and knowledge they want to share.

The difference is that this is a first job for the younger coach, who is looking to put their time in and move to the next challenge, while the older coach hopefully has the experience and knowledge to move the program forward.


Balancing Work and Life

I look at this a little different than most. I believe our professional lives bleed into our personal lives. I have learned to accept the fact that the lines that once separated work and home are a thing of the past. Developing a work-life integration plan instead of work-life balance has helped me generate a more “normal” life.

I don’t feel guilty answering emails, phone calls, etc., away from the workplace. Obviously, this is not the norm, and employers and spouses have to be willing to allow and encourage this blending of our personal and work lives.

My situation is unique in that I am self-employed in my full-time jobs, as a manufacturers rep for several specialty building products and as a majority partner in a 22,000-square-foot sports training center located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. I work out of my home office with my building products company and my wife runs the training center during the day. I spend time in the training center in the evenings as needed.


We’ve been able to rethink the way we have organized our lives. We know that January through May will be very challenging, with the training center at full capacity and me in the middle of a full NCAA softball schedule, as well as servicing my building product customers. We have learned to accept this as a part of life and plan accordingly.

My situation works for me. I don’t try to live two lives; one that is personal and one that is professional. Trying to achieve balance is impossible and will lead to stress and frustration.

Mustard Seed mission founder Lillian Dickson once said, “Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.”


Being part-time coaches shouldn’t stop us from being active on committees. But it takes commitment and focus. You have to want to do this, embrace it as an honor that your peers trust you with the task.


It amazes me that we don’t have more coaches that want to be involved. This also helps with recruiting. I have been able to expand my recruiting footprint through the networking that serving on a national committee provides.

I am currently a member of the NCAA Division III Softball Committee, representing the Atlantic region, and have previously served on NFCA Division III committees. Each of these experiences has allowed me to connect with people on the same level and higher.

I have met people with more experience, who have been able to mentor me over the years, while also dealing with coaches that are on par with me, with whom I can share ideas and experiences that help keep the right mindset and stay on track. I always look for the smartest person in the room. If I’m the smartest person in that room, I look for another room.

So how do you become the best part-time coach you can be?

Creativity

Be open on scheduling all aspects while staying inside NCAA rules. Work with your athletes within their schedules, especially with skill-specific focus.


Resourcefulness

Don’t focus on what you can’t provide, focus on what you can provide. Turn the practice field into a learning laboratory. Use outside resources to enhance learning opportunities.


Empowerment

Involve and empower your coaches and athletes to find ways to improve. In the beginning, assure participation and voice by assigning roles and responsibilities to each member. As the team progresses, the coach gradually shifts the role of leader/organizer to the individual athletes and becomes a participant along with the other coaches. Effective part-time coaches share leadership with others so that they truly are building and empowering their staff and athletes to be the best they can be.

Tips To Avoid Coaching Burnout



Remember to keep it fun, not just for the athletes, also the coaches.
Remember why you got involved in the first place and try and rekindle that fire.

Don’t forget your sense of humor.
Understand clearly what you have personal control of and don’t sweat the rest.

Continue to set goals for your team, but don’t forget to also set goals for yourself.

Make these goals achievable and something that you have control over.

While win-loss records are part of the environment, focus your coaching performance in other areas, such as strategizing, teaching skills and creating a motivating environment.

Surround yourself with those who sustain and bring out the best in you.
Avoid those that make you feel week, insecure or anxious.

Share your feelings and experiences with others that you trust.



In the long run, you have a decision to make. Does this career choice offer you a path to your life goal? Remember the Dickson quote.



”Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.”  

Spend it wisely!

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