Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Texas Travelers Gold Head Coach Kyle Bennett has given the honor of Team Captain to Macy Graf, second baseman for the Travelers. As a natural leader, she exhibits strong leadership skills during all aspects of softball. Before games, she will huddle the team for stretches, start pregame warm-up, as well as constantly encouraging our pitchers during a heated game. Without hesitation, she will accompany a teammate/friend to their required school volunteer work just to be supportive so her teammate doesn’t have to go alone.
You will find Macy Graf at the head of the pack with anything she’s a part of; she’s always in the know and responsible beyond her years.
Kyle Bennett, Head Coach of the Texas Travelers Gold makes the announcement of Macy Graf as Team Captain.
“A leader captures the essence of the team, keep everybody focused and as a unit. Until Macy’s arrival, the Travelers had never turned a double play from the second base position. Now, the Travelers are averaging four double plays a tournament. I couldn’t be happier with the choice the coaching staff has made for this kid. She is truly a special player, but a great leader.” States, Bennett.
The team has responded with overwhelming approval. “I love it when Macy is on the field while I’m pitching. No matter the situation, she always has the right things to say to me on the mound. She also knows where the ball will be going when I pitch. Because of her defense, I can throw anything that is called with confidence because I know the play will be made.” Shares Elizabeth Schaefer, Texas Travelers Gold Pitcher.
Team Captain is a great honor to bestow upon any player and we believe Macy Graf will proudly exemplify her new role!
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Today, many parents are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for their kids to play youth sports. They are filled with hopes and dreams of their player continuing their career in a major college or even the pros. Unfortunately, there are many organizations and recruiters taking advantage of these families and not thinking twice about it.
In 1995 a coach by the name of John Wardlow identified the need of a team that would put the emphasis on player development versus winning trophies. He provided a team, to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, which was both affordable and competitive alike. Before handing over the reins to Kyle Bennett (current Head Coach for Texas Travelers Gold) he personally placed over 185 girls into collegiate programs.
Today, Bennett and his coaching staff continue to provide the same opportunities for their players. In addition to the Texas Travelers Gold Team, the organization also has 2 other teams in the Dallas Ft. Worth area that adhere to the same principles Wardlow set forth.
In 2017, USA Softball identified the top 360 players in the country. Teams would be comprised of the best players in 10 regions across the United States and they would compete against each other in Oklahoma City where the Women’s Softball College World Series is played each year. The Texas Travelers Gold Team had five players (Elizabeth Schaefer, Madison McClarity, Macy Graf, Kaydee Bennett and Macy Hamilton) chosen to be USA All-Americans. The girls’ hard work on the field was a major reason that their Region 5 team made it to the finals of the prestigious tournament.
Currently, each of the Texas Travelers Gold players are already having detailed conversations with colleges such as Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Harding, Tarleton, University of Houston, Texas A&M and several more. This is pretty significant especially since all of the players are in 8th grade, except for two. (One in 7th grade and the other is in 9th). That’s right, the majority of the team will not graduate high school for another 5 years! Most of the players are already playing on the Varsity Team of their high school’s Fall Ball Team.
Every large organization has approached the Texas Travelers Gold Team to become part of their organization, but the Travelers enjoy the benefits of being independent allowing the coaches to focus on each player’s individual needs. The Travelers continue to compete at PGF, ASA, Triple Crown, USSSA and other highly touted events while placing at or near the top in each.
The Texas Travelers will continue to do what is right for their players and their players’ families. They will continue to develop their kids to play at the highest level across the country. The organization will play in front of many colleges over the next several years allowing the entire team to pursue their dream of playing college softball.
Colleges will absolutely love the players they are getting from the Travelers organization. The type of player the Texas Travelers Gold has on their squad is one who is very hard working and competitive. All of the girls are multisport athletes and have the highest grades in their class. (Four girls play Club Volleyball at a National Level and one plays AAU Basketball). Several players enjoy singing and playing instruments and a few of the players are bilingual.
Each player has a personal position coach as well as a speed/agility coach. The Texas Travelers Gold Players are truly the best of the best at their positions. Colleges will be very excited to sign these kids as the organization and family have not only prepared them for the challenges on the field, but also outside the lines.
The Texas Travelers Gold Team consist of 7 players that often hit a home run when they step up to the plate. They have a defense that regularly turns double plays. Their outfield is known for diving into foul territory robbing at bats from opposing teams. The catchers are true captains on the field daring runners to try to take an extra base. The pitching staff is second to none throwing all types of pitches and have a range with a fastball from low 60’s with change ups in the high 30’s to low 40’s. Two players are close to 6’0” and most players are faster than the average freshman collegiate softball player at their position.
This is a team that colleges will want to continue to follow, and good teams will want to play against if they are looking for the strongest competition. The Texas Travelers Gold team will continue to accept the challenges of being an independent organization, but will continue to do what’s right by their players and the colleges those players will be attending.
For more information about the Texas Travelers visit, www.TexasTravelersSoftball.com
at 1:33 PM
Friday, June 9, 2017
In January 2017, USA Softball announced the creation of USA Softball All-American Games which will be held at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex August 18-20, 2017 in Oklahoma City. The USA Softball All-American Games provide national exposure to elite athletes in the 12-under Junior Olympic (JO) fast pitch division and will highlight the top competitors from across the country.
Texas Travelers Gold players; Elizabeth Schaefer (2022 Pitcher), Kaydee Bennett (2022 Shortstop), Madison McClarity (2022 1B), Shelby Nelson (2022 Catcher) and Macy Hamilton (2022 Outfielder) will help lead an All-Star cast of elite softball players at the 12u level.
“The USA Softball JO Commissioners are very excited to host an event that showcases 360 of the best 12-under players from around the country,” said USA Softball of Southern California JO Commissioner Kristi Allen. “We are excited to give these athletes the opportunity to play at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex representing USA Softball.”
With teams selected from the 10 USA Softball Regions, a total of 24 teams from across the U.S. will compete in the USA Softball All-American games. Each region identified top players during ASA Sanctioned events and were chosen by commissioners and coaches of the region. Athletes had to be on a USA Softball registered team for the 2017 season and must be age eligible for the 12-under JO division.
Teams competing in the USA Softball All-American Games will be invited to participate in an exposure camp to highlight their skills. The USA Softball All-American Games will also have an Opening Ceremony, free live streaming and live stats through USASoftball.com and a tournament “swag” bag, which will include their USA Softball All-American jerseys and other official USA Softball and sponsor merchandise.
Elizabeth Schaefer has been talked about as one of the top pitchers in the country in her age group for several years. She is a hard thrower with a fastball that is consistently hitting 60-61 mph, but can easily throw a 36-38 mph changeup to make hitters look downright silly. In addition to her fastball and change; Elizabeth is known to throw a drop ball that will fall off a cliff at 57-59 mph. She keeps the batters honest adding in a Rise, Curve and Screwball which allows her to be quite successful. Schaefer is a very loyal player only playing for the Texas Travelers since getting into select softball and has rewarded the organization with over 1700 strikeouts which is the All-Time strikeout record for the 21 year old organization. In 2015, during the ASA/USA National Championships in Normal, Illinois; she pitched 9 innings and had 18 strikeouts during the game which is an ASA single game strikeout record for the National Championship Tournament. Playing at the USA Hall of Fame Stadium will be exciting for Elizabeth as she earned her 1500 career strikeout in the same complex last year helping the Travelers win the ASA Oklahoma HOF Tournament.
Elizabeth will be entering the 8th grade. After, she will attend Rockwall High School. In addition to playing softball, she is the captain for the Texas Assault National Club Volleyball Team where she plays middle. She led her district winning 7th grade basketball team in points, rebounds and blocked shots. Elizabeth also plays on the Volleyball A-Team, Soccer A-Team and placed in district throwing the discs and shot for Track & Field. She maintains near perfect grades in school with an overall 98 GPA in Pre-AP Honors Classes and was selected for the DUKE TIP Academic Talent Search. Schaefer is in Honors Choir and competes in various UIL events. After high school, she plans to study law and is looking for a college that will help her reach her life goals.
Kaydee Bennett is the All-Time leader in hits for the Texas Travelers organization. Her amazing speed and triple threat option at the plate causes problems for opposing defenses across the country. She can slap, bunt and hit for power with ease. The story line is always the same, “Where Kaydee goes so does the Texas Travelers offense!” This is a lot of pressure for many, but Bennett takes it upon herself to make sure she is on base and she has delivered with an On-Base percentage of .898 this season. Once she is on base, Kaydee displays her superior speed. Winning numerous select softball challenges; Kaydee has been clocked at 2.7 Home to First and 11.83 Home to Home. In addition to delivering at the plate, Kaydee is the leader of the Texas Travelers infield playing shortstop. Bennett can be seen in tournaments tracking balls behind third in foul territory to diving plays on the other side of second base. If she played in the NFL, she would be a true safety and that is exactly what she is for the Travelers. She is a pitcher’s safety net on the field.
Bennett is a dedicated student athlete at Sunnyvale Middle School, a recognized high performing school in Dallas County. Kaydee is heavily involved and accomplished in her school related and extracurricular events include: UIL Academics, STEM, All-A honor roll in advanced courses, A-team volleyball, A-team basketball, and track. Outside of school, Kaydee plays club volleyball as a left side hitter for Texas Assault National Club Volleyball Team, the top team in her age group. Outside of school and sports Kaydee loves animals, reading, outdoor activities and spending time with her friends and family. After high school Kaydee would like to continue her studies in the medical field or law.
Madison McClarity came to the Texas Travelers upon her family’s move from Arkansas. She was highly touted as one of Arkansas’s best 04 pitchers with a very strong bat. Madison has played catcher, 1st and 3rd base as well as pitcher along with all outfield positions. She helped lead the Arkansas Wild Thangs 04 to 8U VTD World Series Championship in Coppell, Texas and led the Arkansas Elite 04 team to a 10U Class B USFA World Series Championship in Panama City Beach Florida. When she joined the Texas Travelers in 2016 she made the choice to move to focus on her play at the corner infield positions which has allowed her to become completely dominate at the plate. However, Madison can still be seen on the mound from time to time. For the Travelers, McClarity is a power hitter consistently sending bombs into the stratosphere. Her 5’9” frame makes her easy to spot on the field and her leadership is seen in the dugout and outside the lines.
McClarity is an outstanding student in Rowlett where she is an All-A/B student in Pre-AP Honors classes for Math, English and Science. She was the leader on the Basketball and Volleyball A-Teams and chosen as the MVP for Volleyball. In addition to playing for the Travelers she is also on the Lady Hawks AAU travel basketball team where she consistently leads the team in rebounds and block shots. During her down time this strong athlete loves to crochet and play the saxophone. After high school Madison would like to study architecture in college.
Shelby Nelson wanted to play in the most competitive tournaments in select softball and made the choice to play for the Texas Travelers in the Fall of last season. Quickly, she proved to become a pitchers best advocate with her blocking and framing ability behind the plate. She is known for making balls look like strikes and her strong leadership on the field. Shelby can be seen catching for some of the top D1 pitchers in the country which has elevated her into one of the best signal callers at the 12U level. She has earned USSSA All-American team, Team MVP at the OU softball camp and Most Improved Award. During the Texas Travelers Spring/Summer Season, Nelson has quickly become a fixture in the lineup due to her power and strong contact. It is becoming a regular occurrence with her batting over .700 and racking up doubles and RBI’s for the team.
Nelson is an All-A Honor Roll student at Lake Dallas. She has received the Principal Award (Top Student in the grade), DUKE TIP (Academic Talent Search) and National Junior Honor Society. She is also on the student council. In addition to being a great student and playing for the Travelers; she is a starter for her middle school’s volleyball, basketball and tennis teams. After high school, Shelby would like to become a zoologist.
Macy Hamilton is an exciting player to watch. The Texas Travelers asked her to be a pickup player in last season’s Nationals held in Missouri and she quickly became a team favorite. She is loved by all of the players and her fans with her hard-nosed efforts at the plate, on the base paths and in the field. Macy is quick to listen to the teams needs and fast to make adjustments to meet them. This has been shown recently as she is becoming a great slapper. She is a true utility player for the Travelers as she plays all three outfield positions and middle infield.
Hamilton is an All-A Honor Roll student, Duke Tip (Academic Talent Search) and National Junior Honor Society recipient at Wester Middle School. She was the team captain for her district champion volleyball team, starting point guard and team captain for her basketball team. She was also on the 4X400 relay team for track. In addition to being a strong student and great teammate for every team she plays on, Macy is a trained vocalist and guitarist. After she attends Mansfield High School she would like to study Sports Marketing in college.
“I am proud that each of these girls are identified as some of the top athletes at their position. Texas has some great talent and outstanding select softball teams. For USA Softball to recognize our Texas Travelers girls is an honor that I am happy to be a small part of” adds, Head Coach of the Texas Travelers Gold Team, Kyle Bennett.
"What a great opportunity for 12-under female athletes across the country to be identified by members of USA Softball's local associations,” said Director of Championships Chris Sebren. “To have the opportunity to come together as individuals and compete as regional teams in this inaugural All-American Games will be such a great experience for them. These select individuals will join some of the best athletes across the world who will be competing in Oklahoma City this year as we host the NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) and the World Cup of Softball. What a great way for USA Softball to finish off our fast pitch season in Oklahoma City with the inaugural All-American Games.”
Designation to a USA Softball All-American team is the highest honor a player can receive and instantly brands the player as one of the top athletes in the United States. Only 360 girls Nationwide will have the opportunity to wear the USA Softball Jersey at this elite event.
The event will feature a free camp for all players, a meet & greet with USA Softball National Team Members, Opening Ceremonies, and intense competition in a 3 Game Guarantee Tournament and a swag bag for all participants.
To learn more about the Texas Travelers Gold Team and each of the players chosen from the Travelers visit https://www.texastravelerssoftball.com/
Thursday, June 1, 2017
MaKynli Miller, pitcher for Texas Travelers Gold, has been chosen to play in the USA Elite Select All-American games to be held in Orlando, Florida.
USA Elite Select has partnered with the All American Scouting Network (AASN) and the NPF to provide a three-day event experience for elite players. Participating athletes will have the opportunity to showcase their individual talents through two days of evaluations on athletic and game performance. Players will be evaluated on athletic testing, offensive and defensive testing, mental toughness and overall game performance.
The National Camp concludes with the Select 30 All American Games, which features the top 30 athletes in each graduation class as selected by AASN following two days of evaluations. These athletes will compete against each other in two games to determine who will be named First and Second Team All-Americans. The final All-American teams will be announced via a selection show on Flo Softball following the event. The country has been divided into eight regions and we will be selecting the top 26 players (13 girls on each team, two teams in each age group) to represent their respective region.
Miller came to the Texas Travelers Gold by way of Many, Louisiana. Upon MaKynli’s arrival to the Travelers she instantly provided a strong addition to the pitching staff. Her poise on the mound allows the Texas Travelers to go deep into tournaments. This was shown recently as the Texas Travelers won the USSSA State Championship as well as the ASA North Texas National Qualifier Championship. Kyn as she is known to her friends, family and fans consistently has a WHIP under a one because of her accuracy and tight spins.
“When Kyn came to the Travelers, we saw a true leader on the mound and at the plate. She is a very athletic girl with a great attitude. She gave us something that we were lacking this season and that is a One-Two punch on the mound. Combining Kyn with E (Elizabeth Schaefer) on the mound has instantly given the Texas Travelers one of the top pitching staffs in the country” states, Coach Kyle Bennett of the Texas Travelers Gold.
The Texas Travelers Gold will complete the season defending their Triple Crown 2016 Championship finish, 14U Wilson Tulsa Elite Invitational, World Fastpitch Championship, and ASA National Championship along with a handful of other top tournaments around the country. MaKynli Miller will continue to take the mound for the Travelers helping them stay as one of the elite select softball teams in the country.
For more information about the Texas Travelers Gold Team and MaKynli Miller visit https://www.texastravelerssoftball.com.
Monday, May 1, 2017
Almost 20 years ago I had a conversation with my sister during one of her collegiate volleyball seasons. She was disappointed that her playing time had diminished. I asked her, “Would you rather be a star player on a losing team, or a contributor on a National Championship Team?” Let that question sink in for a minute.
Today, we are in a society that we earn our worth by how many likes we get on a social media post. We write reviews on businesses instantly and think the rest of the world truly cares what our opinion is. As parents we sit in the stands and feel the winning percentage of the team defines who we are as parents instead of enjoying the opportunity to watch our kids play a game they love. Kids coming out of college expect a $60,000 a year job and ownership of the company they are working for. Half of the population is protesting something and the other half is upset at the protestors. It’s no wonder the “Team Concept” is getting lost in youth sports.
You have probably seen the following scenario:
The score is tied and going into the second International Tiebreaker. Your team has a runner at second and your best batter is up at the plate. The count becomes full and just like a storybook ending; a powerful swing sends the ball deep into the gap scoring the winning run!
These plays are exciting and as long as I can remember, there is always that one player who seems to get all of the glory. For whatever reason, there is “that player” who has the opportunity to deliver the big result when the game is on the line. Unfortunately, behind the fence there is the other player’s parent who is upset because “that player” wasn’t their kid. Isn’t that a sad fact of youth sports?
Softball teams are made up of more than just the nine players who are in the field. Softball teams are comprised of specialized baserunners, designated players, and backups. Everyone on the team has a role and it is important for the success of the organization.
The key to a successful team is the acceptance of your role to help the team accomplish its goals. Now, I want to make it very clear that if your daughter is not a starter on the team; she does not have to be satisfied with that particular role. I encourage every player to have big dreams and strive to reach for those dreams as it will allow her to do great things.
Softball teams only have 9 spots on the field. Therefore, if your daughter is not one of the starters can she still be a good teammate? Can you as a parent help your player grow into a mature adult?
Anyone can throw on a jersey and call herself part of the team, but there is so much more to it than that. When you put on your jersey, you are not only becoming part of a team but part of a family. Whether you get along or not, all your problems should be pushed aside, for the sake of your team.
A good teammate understands that no matter what position you may play, whether you are the best player on the team or on the field, you are nothing without your teammates. The key to a good teammate is being willing to give up anything for your team, sacrificing whatever it takes. A good teammate will continue to battle with you and not run away when things get tough.
Teammates are supposed to be responsible for one another and look out for each other on and off the field.
The best teammates are ones who pull for each other, even while competing for a position; you should continue to root your teammate on because you are both vital to the team’s success. You should always want the best outcome for your teammates.
There is no room for negativity on a team. A good teammate should never put another player down; they should always pick each other up, especially on their lowest days. Teammates stick together, even on their worst days. No matter what a player may go through, just think how much more difficult it would be if they were doing it alone.
Learn to Listen or be coachable. This is a huge one because no matter who is on your team, you can always learn from them. Drop your ego, listen when a teammate talks to you, thank them for their advice and think about what they said. Maybe it wasn’t good, maybe it won’t help you, but you won’t know if you don’t listen to them or the coach.
Be Supportive. A team full of players who support each other will do better and have more fun than a team full of a bunch of individuals who aren’t a part of the same common goal. What I mean by supporting your teammates is that when they make a good play – tell them. Congratulate them. When they screw up, don’t get on their case. They know they made a mistake. They’re already beating themselves up about it. So don’t make it worse and call them out on it.
Be Accountable. In order to be a part of your team, it’s good to know what your role on the team is and what the team can expect from you. Again, this doesn’t mean to not get better at another position that you desire. However, it does mean to be the best you can possibly be at the position or role you are asked to play. Iron always sharpens Iron!
Set Goals. Define some goals for yourself. Basically this comes down to being realistic with yourself about how much time you can commit to the team, what you can expect to bring to the team based on your skill development and what you yourself expect to get out of the season. Once you define your goals write down how you will accomplish those goals. Are you going to spend the extra time in the batting cage, add an extra pitching lesson in each week or work on fielding drills you have researched on the internet?
Exhibit flexibility. Roll with the punches when things change. The ability to take advantage of an opportunity, even if it means changing plans, is huge.
Work as a problem-solver. Good teammates are problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers. They don’t look to blame others, but rather find a way to make things work.
Being committed to a team is the same as being committed to school or a job. Your bosses and teachers rely on you to be there, and they expect you to work hard to become your best. Becoming your best for the sake of the whole is a great teammate quality and also a valuable lifelong trait. This, along with the other teammate traits mentioned, builds our character and shapes us for a future of happiness and success.