Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hayeli Acosta Throwback Thursday Softball Spotlight

Hayeli’s first T-Ball game was in 2008 when she was 4-years old.  She played for the Mesquite Bears.  Her parents were not sure if she would like the game, but they are sure glad that she did, explains Yolanda Acosta- Hayeli’s mom.  If you ask her about having a pink glove, she’ll say “I never had a pink glove, I don’t even like the color pink!” However, we have proof, don’t we?

Today, Hayeli plays centerfield and catcher for the Texas Travelers Select Softball Team.  She can be seen controlling the outfield making outstanding catches for her team.

The 04 Texas Travelers organization exists for the specific purpose of developing a competitive youth fast-pitch softball program whose goals are to develop players capable of competing at the highest levels in the country with the demonstrated skills necessary to earn a college scholarship. Our dedicated coaches and volunteer staff facilitate our athlete’s growth by conducting challenging practices and scheduling the highest level of competitive activity available. However, reaching these goals must be accomplished within the proper framework by instilling character, self-esteem, confidence and sportsmanship with the young athlete.

Achievement of these lofty and worthwhile objectives within the appropriate environment can only be reached through the mature behavior and exemplary conduct of the coaches and parents of the Club. Their relationship with the players must be of the highest ethical and moral standards and be based upon concern and just principles that ensure equitable treatment will prevail in all circumstances.

An aggressive desire for victory combined with the procedural and graduated development of softball skills through exceptional coaching and advanced training techniques is of paramount importance. Nevertheless, everyone should realize that, fast-pitch softball is only a game and is the forum we use to help our athletes mature into responsible adults.

The 04 Texas Travelers play ASA Softball, and plan to compete in ASA Nationals for 2015. The strong North Texas Softball Club has won at IFA-VTD, USSSA, and ASA levels and continues its push to become the 2015 ASA National Champion held in Normal, Illinois. In addition to playing in the ASA National Tourney; the Texas Travelers will also play in each of the national Qualifier Texas Challenge Series, and the Hall of Fame Softball Tournament in Oklahoma City. The team is a fully funded endorsed softball team that intends on continuing its great success in the softball world.

For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702 or follow The Texas Travelers on Facebook.  The Texas Travelers are a 10 U 2004 team that plays ASA competitive softball.  To follow particular players, games, practices or see any other information about the North Texas Select Softball team visit: 04 Texas Travelers News Site.

Monday, March 23, 2015

ASA Spring Texas Challenge Series Stage 1 DFW Qualifier

Mesquite Fastpitch Softball Association will host the 2015 ASA/USA Spring Texas Challenge Series Stage 1 tournament March 28th and 29th.  There are 125 teams competing in 10U, 12U and 14U girls’ fastpitch select softball.  Teams all over Texas will be competing to earn the right to qualify for the 2015 ASA National Championships held in Normal, Illinois in late July of this year.

The Texas Travelers will be competing in a 4 Pool division on Saturday and then single elimination bracket play on Sunday.  En Fuego, Texas Stealth, Direct TV Genies 04, and Texas Sudden Impact are each slotted to play the Texas Travelers in Pool play.  04 Texas Glory, 04 Glory Blue, 04 Texas Shock, Diamond Sports Hotshots Gold, Mizuno Impulse, MoJo Ultimate, Texas Bombers 04 STX, Texas Reign 05, Texas Stealth, Waco Heat and WTX Pride will also be competing in the 10U A division against the Texas Travelers.

It has been a tough past 5 weeks with many of the tournaments getting rained or snowed out, but the weather is looking great in North Texas for this week with a chance for showers on Thursday.  The Texas Travelers are looking forward to getting on the diamond after working hard in the cages and on the football field with their strength and agility coach the past month.

Less than a week away, fans will get a chance to see one of the most talked about North Texas Girls Softball Teams.  They look very strong at the plate, on the mound and in the field.  However, the true test will come at 8:00 AM Saturday morning when the Texas Travelers take on En Fuego out of San Antonio, Texas.

The Texas Travelers Schedule starts with En Fuego at 8 AM, Texas Stealth 12:30 PM (Houston), Direct TV Genies 04 2:00 PM (Austin) and Texas Sudden Impact (Houston) at 6:30 PM.  Sunday’s single elimination bracket play will begin at 8 AM with the championship game starting at 2:00 PM.

For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702 or follow The Texas Travelers on Facebook.  The Texas Travelers are a 10 U 2004 team that plays ASA competitive softball.  To follow particular players, games, practices or see any other information about the North Texas Select Softball team visit: 04 Texas Travelers News Site.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why do we want to watch our Kids Play Sports?

So for the last four weeks, tournaments have been rained out leaving countless numbers of kids disappointed not getting to compete for the title of weekends best!  However, after reading the social media wires, I think parents are as disappointed as the kids if not more.

Those of us who have kids who play sports (my kids are currently playing select baseball and softball) have weekends that revolve around traveling North Texas and places like Gulf Shores, Panama Beach, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Houston, Normal, Illinois and other great places in the United States.  A local tournament for me usually consist of playing in a city just over an hour from where we live.

We spend thousands of dollars every year just in travel alone.  That doesn’t even include equipment, lodging, team fees, hitting & pitching lessons, or food.  We leave work early and sometimes unfinished.  We slack off on taking care of the yard work or daily chores of the house.  Our cars have too many miles and in need of a serious wash.  Yet, we continue to support our children every weekend.

Then when it comes to the games, many great God fearing parents can be seen yelling at the other teams, mocking the umpires, or questioning the decisions our child made on the field.  We create high expectations with sometimes unachievable results.  I have seen marriages fall apart and friendships lost over our kids’ games.  We push our kids to achieve greatness in a little league ballpark in hopes for what?  Are they going to be turning pro next year?  The anxiety of watching our kids can become great as we hope for success and pray they don’t fail.

I have a confession to make!  I have been known to have been described in some of these situations, and a lot of my friends who have kids may even think I am writing about them.  (In full disclosure- I do use my friends’ experiences as material for blogs.  I just won’t use their names- so friends- keep giving me the material!)

So why do we as parents continue to enjoy watching our kids play sports?

In truth- I love watching my kids play sports.  I love seeing them practice and then achieving the results on the field.  Sometimes they win and sometimes they experience losing.  I feel there are lessons to be learned throughout the whole process from practice to winning and losing on the field.  I think these experiences will help my kids as they enter high school, graduate from college and start working in their careers.

In past blogs, it has been explained that a lot of parents live through their child because they never achieved the results they wanted as a kid.  There have been explanations that parents get their self-worth from the success of their child.  I feel for some (they seem to be the most vocal at games and practices) this may be true; however for most parents this is not the case.

Youth sports allows parents to get away from the daily grind of paying the mortgage, cleaning the house, going to a job with a boss they may not like, dealing with an angry customer, or worrying about all of the curves life continues to throw at us.  It is a couple of hours that we can sit back and regain our innocents which was lost a long time ago.  You know what I’m talking about!  The memories where the only thing you had to worry about was if the rain will hold off long enough to allow the game to go on as scheduled.

The rain was usually our biggest disappointment in the spring or summer months.  It was the one thing that kept us from doing what we wanted to do that day.  It really was the only thing we had to worry about.  So for all you parents, let’s hope the rain holds off this weekend, so we can regain a bit of our youth and enjoy some baseball or softball!

For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702 or follow The Texas Travelers on Facebook.  The Texas Travelers are a 10 U 2004 team that plays ASA competitive softball.  To follow particular players, games, practices or see any other information about the North Texas Select Softball team visit: 04 Texas Travelers News Site.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Anticipation of the First Pitch

As parents, we spend our days waking up early carting the kids to school and then fighting traffic to go to jobs just to become worn down by the day to day trials and tribulations.  Around 5 o’clock we get ready to come back home and jump into the same traffic going the other way.  Many of us try to make it back home in time just to jump in the car (while we are eating what we call our dinner) and take our young star athletes to practice.  For those of us with multiple kids, the schedule can become quite entertaining and never a lack of drama.  Why do we do it?

There are several reasons we put ourselves and family through this grind, and without getting into Freudian concepts, I will share the simple reason.  We are preparing for the weekend stage.  Yes, it is tournament time, and for the Texas Travelers, it will be a six month journey to the ASA National Championship in Normal, Illinois.

This Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15, the Texas Travelers will play in the Ides of March 10U Softball Tournament at the Warren Sports Complex in Frisco, Texas.  The softball tournament has 16 teams (with 7 on the waiting list) that are registered to play.  In addition to the 04 Texas Travelers, the 04 Texas Glory Blue, 04 Texas Glory, 05/06 Texas Glory, Oklahoma Angels 04, Wolfpack, Black Widows 2004, Texas Elite LeClair, MVPz 04, D1 Softball, Wicked, Oklahoma CRUE, 04 Black Widows, Firecrackers DFW Rivera, Midwest Elite 05, and Texas Twist will be competing in the USSSA Tournament.  The softball tournament will consist of 4 Pool Play Games and then single elimination Bracket Play on Sunday.

The Texas Travelers are scheduled to play the 04 Texas Glory Blue Saturday at 8 AM, Oklahoma CRUE Saturday at 11 AM, Texas Twist Saturday at 3:30 PM and Texas Elite LeClair Sunday at 9:30 AM for Pool Play.  Bracket play in the Gold Division will begin at 11 AM on Sunday.  If all goes the way the Texas Travelers plan, the championship game will take place at 5 PM on Sunday.

For many of us parents, Softball Season is a time that allows us to escape from the day to day realities of life!  It is a time, we can sit back in the stands and enjoy the comradery of our softball family.  We get to see the end result of the hard work our daughters’ have put forth over the past year.  There is nothing more exciting than the anticipation of the first pitch of the tournament.

However, did you ever take a moment to think about what is going through the mind of your 10 year-old daughter?

The pitcher is standing on the mound after warming up for the past hour.  She receives the call from the catcher and must hit that spot with pinpoint accuracy.  Is she confident in her team to make the play?  Is her adrenalin so high that she hits the velocity she expects?  Does she worry about the batter? All eyes are on her as she goes through her windup and releases the ball.

How about the fielders?  They too have gone through warmups the past hour.  Are they in the proper position to play a hit?  Where will they move if the ball is hit to another player?  Will they backup their teammate or cover the bag ready to receive the throw?  What if the ball is hit to them?  Will they make the play?

Don’t forget about the first batter.  She has been watching the pitcher in warmups.  She is judging her swing to the speed of the pitcher.  Is she confident she will put a ball in play?  Does she worry about striking out?  Her goal is to make it to first and her the umpire yell, “Safe.”

Everyone wants to succeed.  Everyone wants to win the game.  However, like life, not everything goes our way.  So, how will your daughter act after a victory?  How will she act during defeat?  How will they be judged?  What kind of attitude will the parents have in the stands?  What lessons will be taught?

The Texas Travelers would like to wish all teams’ good luck and have a safe tournament.  We look forward to competing with you on the field.

For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702 or follow The Texas Travelers on Facebook.  The Texas Travelers are a 10 U 2004 team that plays ASA competitive softball.  To follow particular players, games, practices or see any other information about the North Texas Select Softball team visit: 04 Texas Travelers News Site.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Your Daughter isn’t Good Enough to Play

Recently at a church service, the preacher stated, “Fathers, I’m talking to you right now.  Your kid will not turn pro!”  Now he said this because all too often, we (me included) would miss his Sunday message due to a softball or baseball tournament.  However, although he was telling us we should not be missing church for just any reason, he wasn’t lying about our kids turning pro.  The odds of your son or daughter turning pro are next to impossible.  In a post, “North Texas Select Softball Teams”, there are detail facts about the likelihood of your daughter earning a college scholarship in softball.  Once you read how slim the chances of your daughter even making it to college on an athletic scholarship, continue to read this blog to fully understand how right my preacher was about your kids making a profession out of the sport they play.

Let’s start out with men’s baseball.  The odds of playing professional in the MLB are the highest among all sports.  According to the NCAA, 11.6% of college players play professionally, and .6% of high school players jumped directly to the pros.  There were 806 total draftees out of a pool of 471,025 high school players and 31,264 collegiate baseball players.  Now, you may be thinking this 11.6% of collegiate players make it to the Major League squad, but these numbers include the hundreds of minor league and independent league teams.

The most popular sport in Texas is football.  Of the 1,108,441 high school players and 67,887 college players each year, there are only 255 draftees.  That is a mere 1.7% of college players and .08% of high school players who have the ability to play on Sunday in front of millions.

Men’s basketball only has 48 draftees each year out of 545,844 high school players and 17,500 college players for a 1.2% chance out of college and .03% chance out of high school.

Women’s basketball is not any better with .09% of college players playing professionally and .03% of high school athletes.

Soccer has 1% of college players making it to the pro and .04% of high school players.

Now, since this blog sits in a softball forum, let’s talk about the odds of your daughter playing this great sport at any level.

Everyone who knows anything about softball has heard of Jennie Finch.  Ms. Finch played for the USA Gold Medal Team in 2004 and helped the United States bring home the Silver in 2008 Olympic Games.  She was a star and one of the best collegiate softball pitchers for the University of Arizona from 1999 to 2002 with a career ERA of 1.08 and striking out over 1000 softball batters.  In 2000, Finch set an NCAA record with a perfect season capped with the National Championship as well as being named MVP for the series.  Jennie Finch was drafted by the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) team, Chicago Bandits in 2005 where she pitched until 2010.  Now, Finch has made a career out of softball earning over $500,000 a year in endorsements but she is the exception to reality.

As of today, the USA National Team is considered the top team in the World for softball.  Currently there are 18 women who wear the uniform for the 2015 USA Softball Women’s National Team.  So out of 30,874 active participants at the college level that gives your daughter a whopping .000583% chance of being showcased as one of the very best on the diamond.

So let’s say your daughter is shooting for the best and comes up a little short.  That’s not a bad thing right?  What are the odds of your daughter playing college softball?  In 2014, there were 1679 colleges that sponsored varsity Softball teams.  There are 295 NCAA I, 284 NCAA II, 416 NCAA III, 193 NAIA, 357 NJCAA and 134 other divisions to meet this number of schools.  The average team size is 18 players.  Now, here is the jarring numbers that will show you just how good you have to be to play at the college level.  There are around 371,891 women high school softball players.  That means there is an 8.3% chance of a high school player competing in college.  So now pick your favorite college team.  Your daughter has less than a .0000134% chance of playing for them give or take a couple of thousands of a percentage points.

Now let’s look at the chances of your daughter playing in high school.  It’s pretty simple to figure out.  Take the number of high school players on the Varsity Team.  Let’s say it is 15 to be safe.  Now add up how many girls are playing Select Softball, Rec Softball in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade in your town.  Each year, the seniors will graduate.  However, the 8th graders will be competing for a varsity spot as a freshman.   If they don’t make it on varsity they will be placed on the junior varsity team and compete for a spot the next year (and so on).  However, now the 7th graders will be coming up as well in 2 years.  If the 8th graders (who are now 10th graders) improve- they will be on the team along with the girls who already made the team as a freshman.  Don’t forget- there were already freshman, sophomores and juniors who were already on the team so there are only so many spots to have.

This blog is not meant to discourage your daughter from playing softball.  It is meant for you as a parent to put into perspective the opportunity and how thankful you should be to have a daughter who plays this exciting sport.  This blog is intended for you to enhance her experience and help give her memories that will last a lifetime.  In addition, if she has the talent to continue to play, this should serve you as a warning not to mess up her chances.

The sad thing that the above statistics don’t show are this…There are great girls who have above average talent who do not continue to progress making the top teams otherwise they would qualify for.  Why?

It’s because of you!  Yes, you the parents!  Your kid doesn’t suck!  You do!

So, now I have lost half of my readers because of the statement hit below the belt.  Yes, it was meant to be impactful; however, when we look at it closely, we will find out how true it is.

As an assistant coach for one of the top 04 select travel softball teams in Texas, I get to be around a great softball family with great parents.  However, any coach in youth sports will tell you horror stories about parents who ruin opportunities for their daughter (or son in football, baseball, basketball soccer- you enter the sport and it fits).

Recently, a girl tried out for our team.  She was a good player.  She was a good pitcher.  She had a sweet personality.  We wanted her to play for our team.  (Those of you who know softball is that good pitchers are very hard to come by, and become a huge commodity in the world of select softball.  It doesn’t mean they are the most important person on the team, but they are very valued as they can be the difference maker of a good team versus a great team because they are involved in every play of the game.)  So the story goes, she came to a tryout.  She performed well enough to catch all of the coaches’ attention.  It wasn’t anything spectacular, but her performance was good enough to become a solid option at multiple positions on the team including one of the pitchers.

Here is where it went south of great.  Before the girl was offered an opportunity to comeback for another tryout, the dad stated he wanted his daughter to pitch every other game.  He wanted her to play the infield if she wasn’t on the mound.  He wanted her to bat in one of the first four spots.

As you can imagine, we didn’t add her to our squad.  Now, she didn’t have a problem with finding another team, but she missed out on an opportunity to be with this team.  Yes, I am biased.  I feel we have some of the most dynamic players with great personalities and strong values.  They are a very talented group of girls who excel in many things in addition to softball.  The parents are a pleasure to be around and in every sense, it is a great family atmosphere playing a fun game.

My point is, however, she will hit a road block in her progression one day because of her father.  This was 10U softball.  There are hundreds of teams in North Texas and she is sure to find one that will meet her father’s playing time and position criteria for his daughter.  However, as you have read above, the odds of playing at a high level become harder and harder the older you get.  High School Varsity coaches have a strong talent pool.  College coaches have a stronger talent pool.  Each level, the talent pool is better and plentiful.  It is hard enough for talented players to make these teams.  Now add the parents into the mix and it can be disastrous for your child to play a great game!

It has everything to do with you.

So now that we have established this blog isn’t about the odds of your daughter playing for college or even at a higher level, let’s talk about some disturbing trends among parents and their relationships with their children.  Let’s see if you fall into any of these categories or have made some of these mistakes.

Hopefully it isn’t too late for you, and maybe we can keep your daughter from hating you by the time she is 16!

Many parents over value the talent of their child, cannot separate the emotions they feel during the game with that of their child’s, find it necessary to inject their opinions and/or suggestions for the team because the pay money to be part of the organization, and severely hinder and stunt their child’s progress and passion for the sport they play.

So why and what are the reasons parents tend to screw up?  Check out to see if you are one of these parents:

Parents Favorite Sport

Your child will only go as far as they love what they do.  This not only applies to sports but life in general.  Support what they love and are interested in, not what you think they should be involved in.  You had a childhood already so now let your kid have theirs.  Allow them to play multiple sports and find the one they truly love.

Glory Day Star

You weren't that good of a player (i.e. high school sports). Most parents have an idea that they excelled in the sport they competed in high school.  However, hindsight is 20/20.  In the grand scheme of things you really weren't that great so stop telling your kid you were.  They don't need to live up to your lies.

Backstage Mom (or Dad)

Leave your child alone during competition.  Your child is out on the field competing and does not need any added pressure from you telling them what they should or should not do.  Save it for after the game, and if it is not constructive, keep it to yourself.  Your insights on their play are usually driven by emotion and passion and typically come off as confrontational.  They have enough pressure as it is, they don't need more from you.

Wanna be Bench Coach

Let the coaches’ coach.  Did you sign up to coach?  Did you volunteer your time away from your family to help others?  If not, you don't have a say.  Yes, you may have coached Rec league or "daddy ball" but in no way does that qualify you to give suggestions as far as lineup, playing time, and direction of team.  If you don't like it, leave.    You don't have to stay and have every right to go somewhere else.  If that's how you feel, then leave rather than be a distraction to the team?  (And typically this element comes from parents whose child is the least talented).

Stress Bucket

Let your child enjoy the process.  Sports are a never ending process of learning, whether it be social or fundamental.  There's an inherent value to the social and fundamental construct of sports.  These early years of athletics can be unbelievably valuable for your child's social abilities in the future.  Stop stressing out over every detail.  Enjoy the successes and learn from the failures.  How your child reacts to both will pave the attitude they have in the future.

Colin Young, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 9th round of the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft, was the inspiration for this blog and details these suggestions and descriptions of parents who help their children fail in sports.

Young states, “People often ask what my parents' role was in my climb to professional baseball.  I tell those people that my parents were supportive of my love of baseball and gave me every opportunity to succeed.  My father was a football coach and knew nothing of baseball and my mother did not play sports in high school.  Whether I played a great game or terrible game, my parents always treated me with support and love.  They never "pushed" me in any way and anything that I accomplished was because of my own desires and their support. They had complete trust in my coaches and I was very lucky to have great ones along the way.  So, when you look at your child and you see a major league baseball player or professional football player, understand that they may think of themselves as something very very different.  It's not about you, and if it is, it's probably the reason your kid sucks.  Parents: don't be the reason for your kid's failures, they're under enough pressure already.”

For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702 or follow The Texas Travelers on Facebook.  The Texas Travelers are a 10 U 2004 team that plays ASA competitive softball.  To follow particular players, games, practices or see any other information about the North Texas Select Softball team visit: 04 Texas Travelers News Site.