In a recent conversation with the Texas Travelers 03 head coach, Lee Kuyrkendall the discussion of players’ decision making about teams was a fun topic to discuss. Before I share this conversation, let me give you a little background of Coach Kuyrkendall.
Kuyrkendall’s personal honors include Chairman of the Mississippi Community College Coaches (2011 – 2014), NCAA West Regional Selection Committee (2006), American Southwest Conference Coach of the Year (2002 and 2003), American Baseball Coaches Association Recognition for milestone achievements of 100, 200, 300 and 400 wins, Head Coach – North Team, Central Florida Coaches Association All-Star Game (1997), North Florida Community College Professional Achievement Award (1996), and the USA Baseball Clinic Assistant – Olympic Team Summer Tour (1995 and 1996).
Now some may say that Lee Kuyrkendall only knows baseball. However, that is far from the end of the story. In addition to playing baseball and basketball for the Southwest Bears; he also played Men’s Fastpitch Softball with former players such as Glenn Moore, current Head Coach of the Baylor Bears softball team.
Needless to say, Coach Kuyrkendall has experienced coaching at the highest level. His one advice to parents and select softball players are to “Stay in the moment” when finding the right select softball team.
What did he mean by that?
That being said, ask many pro players today and they will share their most memorable experiences were the ones they made in high school sports.
So what do we mean by “Staying in the Moment” when looking for a select softball team?
It’s simple. Don’t look for a team that promises you that the only way for your daughter to play college softball is to play for their organization. At 8, 10, 12 years old your daughter is NOT being recruited by colleges. It doesn’t even make sense. We will talk about the recruiting process later.
When you are looking for a team, look at them and see if they have strong team chemistry. Do the girls enjoy playing with each other? Talk with the parents of the other girls. Are these the type of parents you want to spend the majority of your weekends with during softball tournaments? Watch the coaches. Do they know what they are doing? Do they understand the game? Can they communicate with all of the girls at their level? Have they created an environment that fosters learning? In short, is this a team that your daughter can have fun playing a game she loves? It’s very important because there will be a time for every girl playing softball when it will be time to hang up the cleats and it’s over. What memories were created during this time?
Let’s face it. Select softball has become so monetized by large organizations that it makes sense for them to have many teams. In addition to cost of travel, tournament fees and others they tack on fees such as $25 a player just to come to a workout. They expect their players to come to these workouts. They make an extra $5 or $10 on uniforms. It doesn’t seem like a lot until you multiply these figures by the hundreds of players in the organization. Now, the large organization starts making a few thousands of dollars off of each team they have in the organization. I’m all for capitalism, but not at the expense of treating an 8-14 year old young girl as a consumer. She only wants to play softball.
We can take this further. What can that organization do for your daughter that you cannot do yourself?
I have also heard big organizations state that college coaches will only watch big organizations play at showcase tournaments. Does this hold water? If that were the case, why would you have showcase tournaments and only have a few teams play. Wouldn’t that college coach decide to attend the big organizations practice and just sign your daughter right there?
This blog is not a knock on big name organizations. It is only written to shed some light on finding the right select softball team for your family. The percentages of your daughter playing college softball are the same whether she played for a large or independent organization. It will come down to your daughters’ skill level, grades and how persistent or determined you are to help guide her on this journey.
So this brings me back to “Staying in the Moment” when looking for a team for you daughter. Find a team that will allow your daughter to create great memories playing the game. Continue to assess each year that the team continues to meet this expectation. Identify the vision of the team. As your daughter prepares for high school, make sure the team is getting her ready to play at that level. Once in high school, expect your team to guide and advocate for her during the recruiting process. If you can’t look at the team and feel that they are 100% for your daughter, you need to look for another team.
Stay in the moment and enjoy the journey. I personally am looking forward to the next 7 years, but right now I am only focused on enjoying this year with my daughter.
For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers visit the team on Facebook or contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702.