I’ve been putting off writing this article for a few reasons. It will likely be misinterpreted by some people, while possibly offending others. Regardless, I can’t put if off any longer. My goal for this post is to help parents make the best decisions for their daughters and families concerning their options on playing travel softball. I will even share with you how much I paid for my youngest daughter's travel softball career.
First of all, I am a strong advocate for travel softball. Two of my daughters played travel softball at different levels for years. That is where they learned the game, fundamental and advanced skills, how to handle failure and success, how to deal with getting cut, how to earn playing time and to compete against other teams. They did not learn these things in the recreation league and certainly not in school.
This is a follow up to the article, My Journey to Self-Confidence in Softball, written by 14 year old Jess Verran. Jess is an aspiring writer and dreams of playing college softball someday. After her first post back in April I challenged her to write about her experience on the Varsity team. It was a pleasant surprise to receive this article last week.
Her growing self-confidence and self-initiative has been fun for me to observe. As a coach who writes and talks about teaching life lessons through softball, Jess's articles speak volumes to this. I am very proud of Jess and hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.
What It Was Like Being a Freshman on Varsity
by Jessica Verran
Making the Team
As a freshman you can only hope to make it on the Varsity team. During tryouts I was hopeful my abilities would prove I deserved a spot. As I looked at the other players trying out, sizing them up, comparing myself – I grew more uncomfortable.
When asked about the success of his coaching career, John Wooden replied, “I won’t know for 20 years whether I did a good job or not.” He defined success not in the moment, the last win or another championship, but in the lives his former players would go on to lead. Should they be good fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, role models, coaches, businessmen, members of their community, etc., only then he would know he had been a successful coach.
I’m not a basketball guy, but really enjoyed his book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Reflections On and Off the Court. It’s a great source of inspiration and insight for coaches of any sport and level of experience. I read it somewhere in the middle of my (on and off) coaching career. While there are numerous quotes from the book, it is that one above that has impacted me the most. The goal of this post is to help coaches be the best that they can be.
Every year it’s the same thing. During their school seasons, players tell their travel coaches that they are ready for summer. In the middle school years players may simply be excited to play the higher level of softball. But during their high school years, there are often numerous issues that can cause players (and their parents) to just want it to be over.
This raises the question: What is the responsibility of the travel coach when a player tells him/her about issues she’s having with school ball?
I recently challenged one of the players on my varsity team and in the softball club where I coach to write an article for the Softball Journey blog. I told her she could write about whatever topic she desires. What she wrote should be required reading for all coaches and parents of not only softball players, but athletes of all sports. I am extremely proud of this young lady for accepting my challenge, taking the risk of being criticized and for having the courage to share her thoughts and feelings with the world!
I am my toughest competition and critic.
Her name is Jessica Verran and she is an aspiring young writer. Jess is a freshman varsity player at Swartz Creek High School and member of the 14U Mid-Michigan Firestix softball team. She is a talented pitcher, first baseman, outfielder and hitter who I am certain will someday realize her dream to play college softball.
Have you ever seen a player make an error, mental mistake or strike out? Well of course you have. And how often have you seen player’s entire body language change after doing so? You know….they hang their head and look as if they’re about to cry. I’m sure you’ve seen that too. They’re having a Pity Party.
I first heard this expression from one of my daughter’s travel coaches (John W.) and it has stuck with me since. As a parent I was fortunate not to suffer through any of my daughters behaving this way. But as a coach I’ve seen it repeatedly over the years. The million dollar question is how do you stop players from having one?
Another week of work and school goes by for you and your daughter. You pack the car with your things and her softball gear and hit the road towards the hotel. Whether it be a college softball camp or tournament, your dreading the drive, but eager for some softball. One minute she’s texting on her cell phone a bit and listening to music and passed out the next.
She’s learning to deal with her anxieties and fears right before your very eyes.
Your glad she’s resting, so she’ll be fresh in the morning. You’re already thinking about how little sleep you’ll get that night and the amount of coffee it will take to get your morning rolling. You’re hoping that she’ll have a great day, perform to the best of her abilities and make an impression on a coach or two.
You make it to the hotel, wake her up, get checked in and she crashes again while you’re staying at the imperfections of the hotel ceiling in the flicker of the television’s light. You blink your eyes and the alarm’s going off. You get ready, rush through breakfast and dash to the field or college. She’s fine. You’re exhausted as the camp or game begins.
I want to help you by sharing my thoughts on college softball camps. Through the years my daughter attended too many to count or name and now she works them as a member of her college softball team. Today as a 16U travel coach I am encouraging my players to attend camps.
Which ones? How many? What types? Why? Those are some of the most common questions I’m asked. I’ll answer these and more in this article, which I hope you will share with other parents in your softball circles.
Another weekend of the 2015 summer travel softball season has just passed. And with it, sadly, more stories of the unbelievable behavior of parents. From a coach jumping a fence to break up a fight to a mom using her vehicle to block the tournament gate, you cannot make up the kind of lunacy that happens all too frequently at youth sporting events.
I had a long conversation with a couple of Division 1 college coaches this weekend who reiterated, with emphasis, what I’ve been told over recent years: PARENTS ARE BEING RECRUITED TOO!