The Heart and Soul of Fastpitch Softball
If you are a fan of our facebook page, it is obvious that fastpitch softball reaches a ton of girls from all over the country, who play at all levels of the game. On any given Saturday, a fan of ours is playing anything from a 7 game guarantee select ball tournament 2 states away from home, to a one time afternoon game at their local Recreation department with ballet classes afterwards.
We have girls/parents that anticipate collegiate scholarships from a young age, and those that play for a few months out of the year for no other reason than to have fun and be with their friends. And guess what, they are all fastpitch softball players.
The thing is that a sport as vast as fastpitch has bred quite a bit of competition and bragging and ridicule among parents and children. Those that play for pure recreation intentions are often put down by those who travel across the country and sink thousands of dollars into select and tournament ball. The parents who adorn the highly competitive softball tourneys tend to have a lack luster opinion of the girls that play only seasonally as an extension of socialization and exercise. There is a common phrase going around where people refer to other girls that play as “just rec ball players,’ which is punned to be a negative thing in this day and age.
And even in the travel ball community, there are polls and forums, opinions and predictions, arguments and discussions (and pressure) on which organizations will be the top dog team of the year and of course incessant boasting that ‘my daughter plays with such and such,’ or ridicules that ‘such and such team’ is just a daddy ball team that lacks ‘real’ talent. However, did you ever stop to think about the fact that not everyone covets the high dollar, fast paced, hectic, cut-throat world of travel ball? There is nothing wrong with a ‘Rec ball’ player. In fact, that is where most girls start out.
When you pull away the curtains, it seems almost negligent (and rude) to talk about 8U, 10U and even 12U players in such a way. When you are immersed in competitive ball, you almost have to take a step back at some point and realize that the trading, and recruiting and evaluations and pushing and lessons of these KIDS and TEAMS has gone slightly overboard.
Worse, is that this judgment and competitive-ness, and “I am better because I/my daughter plays with such and such,’ has filtered into the school systems and social hierarchy of kids and their parents. In any decent sized school there are likely multiple girls that play on multiple types of teams throughout the year – who are somehow duking it out with one another to feel like they are the best.
It has gone beyond just team pride, to something instigated by the parents and coaches as a matter of social status. Parents coveting for their daughter to be recruited or make it on a select, A-ball team – and often passing by opportunities with established, but ‘less competitive’ (the fastpitch term for not as good’ teams) in order to forward their daughters softball career at the age of 10.
The reality is that it is absolutely okay to be proud of our teams. But as fastpitch softball players and parents and coaches and fans, we should hold onto enough respect for the game to realize that the little girl playing short stop on her local Rec league team swinging an aluminum bat is just as excited about fastpitch as the girl training 20 hours per week whose parents are socking thousands of dollars into a select team. They are both athletes. They are both happy and excited to be part of the fastpitch community. They are equally as proud of their team. And they are both fastpitch softball players.
If it wasn’t for the ‘daddy ball’ teams, the rec ball teams, the so called minor leagues of softball that eventually spill over a fraction of the girls playing to the highly competitive, a-gold, select ball teams that so many feel resides on the ballfield pedastol, softball wouldn’t be as popular today as it is. If it wasn’t for the droves of girls who love the game (even if they don’t play ASA travel for one reason or another), many of the venues that so many enjoy today may not even be available to our daughters.
We believe that at the root level of our existence, most of us are more the same than different. Your daughter may play for a highly recognized travel team, for a team put together out of Rec ball, or just on the local level. The opportunities for each kid may be different for one reason or another – but the LOVE is the same. The heart and soul of softball resides inside the girls playing the sport, the girls posting their pictures on Instagram, who find pride and accomplishment and friendships among the softball diamond.
In other words, the girls hacking it out on weedy fields are just as beautiful and powerful as those accustomed to hotel accommodations and perfect fields complete with a running lanes during their weekend tourneys. The heart and soul of fastpitch softball resides in both types of players, parents, coaches and fans.No kid should have to feel bad (or inflated) because they play with one team over another. No parent should feel anger or resentment because they aren’t on a coveted local team. Just let the girls play in the manner that works best for them. Lets just learn to be happy where we are at, have pride in the teams we are on, and refrain from feeling better than (or worse than) anyone else based on how we play ball. It seems with all the things going on in the world, the last thing that should be an issue is how we as families spend our free team. What is right for one family, is not always right for another.
And at some point, we have to feel satisfaction in the exact place that we sit, taking it all in living in the moment, feeling confident in our decisions, not worrying about other people are doing, and refraining from judgment of others. This sport has come as far as it has because of ALL THE GIRLS who play ball. In ALL OF them, lies the heart and soul of fastpitch softball.
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There is always a team for your daughter to play on. That’s what I always say. I used to grin watching my daughter play on her 7th grade school ball team with the girls that had to look thru the garage and find their glove and Walmart bat that they used for the last three years. The girls that wore their soccer cleats to practice. I had an awakening when softball was over and her coach asked her to go out for basketball. Basketball ? My Emily ,had never played before. She learned the game and got to play on her school Jv team . All of a sudden it was us getting the old uniforms that didn’t fit well and not getting much coaching . Did my daughter have fun ? Yes she did but she wasn’t the stud anymore. It was something to do while we were waiting on school softball to begin. It’s easy to make enemies as a parent of a travel team softball player. It’s alot harder to make friends.
A very good article. The only thing I would change is I would have had a photo of girls and not one of boys. Travel ball teams have destroyed local community programs and that is a shame.
I really enjoyed this post, partly because my daughter played last summer and fall with a “rec ball” team. We put together a group of girls essentially all stars from with in oyr local rec dept and went to play tournaments. Our girls heard the comments not just from other teams but the parents as well. The usual things. “Oh they’re just rec ball” or “yall get to leave as soon so the real teams can play” . we even had one tournament director say that “he didn’t expect us to be there long and no one else did either because we were a rec ball team” but that was while he was giving our girls the 2nd place trophy. as the summer and fall went on we competed in 11 or 12 tournaments, placing in nine of them with 4 1st place finishes. Including the TSFA Fall World Series. Hearing the same negativity every weekend along the way put a chip on our girls shouders and left a bad taste in the mouths of the parents of “real travel ball” teams we sent home. Our girls are the 8u Newton STARS from Covingto, Ga and we hope to meet alot of the Softball is for Girls fans that truly love this game as much as our girls do this summer.
You guys should give Dixie Softball a try. Contact me at 205-785-2255 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have the right kind of program for you.
Interesting comments. However, other sports should not be just a bridge to another softball season. Your child meets new friends, new coaches, new parents. She learns a new game. She uses different muscles and bones. Good for her. One thing I will tell you is that the bats bought at Wal-Mart are no different than those bought at the most expensive sporting goods store. I have been to the bat manufacturers and see them made. They paint them different and stamp them different.