It may just be a rumor at this point, but I just heard that we are in the 21′st century and that any good website provides a discussion forum so that followers can contribute ideas ask questions and learn from others. Can that be true?
If the rumor is true then I would hate for Cross Training to be the last site in the world to provide this interactive capability so I’ve added a new Discussion Forum page. Seriously! It’s right there at the far right of on your menu bar and you can even upload your own avatar for the discussions. I know right that’s only been around for 10 years and I already have it here now. Check it out.
All kidding aside I sincerely hope that the new forum will provide more interaction between those around the world and myself.
The heart my students have for this game.
The willingness of my students to do whatever it takes to become champions on and off the field.
Take Lauren and Kady for example, the two young ladies in this intro video. Both are great young players. Both could be comfortable kicking other players butts in the age group they are at. But they are both committed to kicking players butts when they are 22 (10 and 11 years from now.)
Not only are they willing to do what it takes to themselves become champions they are willing to do whatever it takes to help me shoot videos so that others can learn and improve. Oh they could just keep what I teach them a secret, but then who would they compete against? They both want to be driven by their competition to continue on the path of learning. To continue on the path of playing the best and rising above them. We’ve wanted to shoot these videos for a long time, but the weather here in hot-lanta GA just hasn’t cooperated. We finally had a break in the clouds long enough for them and their parents to zip straight from school, change in the car so that we could shoot the upcoming episodes that will be released via Fastpitch Illustrated Magazine. If you aren’t already a subscriber the link is just a few inches on your right.
So how do I accomplish what is needed each month to produce an article and great video training to go along with it? My students.
When you sit on the outside of the fence watching them play, have you ever wondered what goes through players heads? I do. All the time. I wonder if they really love the game. Is their mom/dad forcing them to play. Are they just playing to be with their friends. Is it simply something to keep them busy. A way to earn a letter to add to a jacket. I work with so many amazing young players that some certainly could fall into any of those categories. But I’m also blessed to work with many young women who truly are as passionate about this sport as I am. I’ve even met some that love it even more than myself. More often than not I have to guess what they are thinking though. Every now and then, like recently, a young woman is actually able to vocalize her thoughts. The following essay was written by a young woman named Taylor Wynn, and I was so moved by it I asked her for permission to share it. I’ve never used my blog to share something from someone else, but in this case I think Taylor so nailed the very essence of the game that I didn’t have a choice.
Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend by Taylor Wynn
It is the middle of the fifth inning; the score is tied at five. The sky is beginning to turn black with a trifling rain starting to fall. The crowd is silent, trying to take in every play. The game is in the hands of one girl, the pitcher, a sophomore, a freshman to the team; me. The catcher calls a screwball, painting the inside corner; a strike to end the inning. We have hit the time limit so all that is left to do is score to end the game. We are in the middle of batting when the bottom drops out and the sky begins to roar. The game ends in a tie, but the final score is irrelevant. I walked off the field knowing that my team, my coaches and my parents were proud of me. Softball is more than just a sport, more than just a bat and a ball; it is my life.
Softball is a very physical. It requires a significant amount of strain on the body. It is running and conditioning. Teams often play up to five games in one day. Pitchers are frequently needed to pitch in several of those games. This not only takes a physical toll on players, but an emotional one as well. Players have to possess a massive amount of endurance. To play softball and be good at it, you have to have passion for the sport. Without passion, there is no commitment. Without commitment and passion, there is no effort. And without effort, it is a waste of time.
Softball is often compared to baseball. Although very similar, the two sports have many differences. Softball is played on a much smaller field than baseball, which is sometimes mistaken for being easier. It is the complete opposite. While it may be easier as far as running the bases go, the players in the field have to have a much faster reaction time to get the runner out. Pitchers throw the ball underhanded rather than over-handed. That makes a big difference with movement of the ball; letting it go up as well as down, left and right. Pitches are thrown from forty-three feet rather than sixty feet. Depending on the speed of the pitch, batters need faster bat speed. A one hundred mile per hour fastball in baseball is equivalent to a sixty mile per hour fastball in softball. That is major league speed.
Softball is emotion. We all know that girls are slightly more emotional than boys. Getting drama-filled girls to work together is a task in its own right, but in the end it teaches us all teamwork. All softball players know that when it comes time to step onto the field everything gets put to the side. Drama, family problems, relationships, school, none of it matters once you step onto the dirt. It is all about doing everything you possibly can and working as one unit to come out on top.
Not only does softball keep you in shape and give you physical fulfillment, but it teaches its players numerous other things as well. It teaches teamwork. A team must work together to be victorious. It teaches participants how to set goals. If goals are never set, then they can never be achieved. It has the power to teach players sportsmanship and how to encourage others to achieve their goals. A team cannot be successful if they do not work together to reach their goals. Softball teaches responsibility. Not only are players responsible for all of their equipment being present when needed, they are responsible for the way they act on and off of the field. On the field, players must show responsibility for the way they play throughout the game. A player cannot make an error then turn around and blame it on someone else. Off of the field, players, especially in uniform, must carry themselves in a respectful manner. I played softball all throughout high school. Come game day, we wore our uniforms to school. That day, we had to be the most well behaved students in the school. Not only were we representing ourselves, but we were representing our coaches and our school as well.
After that game, even though we did not come out with a win, I walked off of the field with my head held high. I knew that I had just proven myself. They knew I could do it now. I had the respect of my coaches and teammates. I was on top of the world.
Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
That means that you were crafted by God. Many times the circumstances we find ourselves in, or the people we are surrounded by make us feel like junk. But that’s not true, God doesn’t make any junk. You are one of His masterpieces.
Sometimes we ourselves feel like junk, even though we know we have been created by God. You may feel like you have let God down, but the good news is that’s impossible. You were never holding God up.
Go show the world the amazing masterpiece that is you.
Players who slap from the left side of the box are cute. May even be nice kids. But I wouldn’t trust them if I were you. Why? Because if racing with them isn’t tough enough already, they get a lead. Seriously! It’s just not fair. Check out a current post I made for Fastpitch.TV at http://fastpitch.tv/slapper-save-10-by-dalton-ruer/
As it’s very name suggests Thanksgiving is always a time for giving thanks. As I sit alone at my keyboard with the sun rising in Georgia I count it a blessing that I’ve been able to spend the entire week giving thanks.
Saturday – I was fortunate enough to have the entire day to watch a bunch of girls that I love participate in a showcase tournament that started with a very unique format. In the first two games of the day eams exchanged half of their players with each other. While most of the parents were less than thrilled it brought an untold joy to my heart. I began Cross Training as a ministry to reach players and their families through long term relationships. The first team that I coached had many amazing young ladies on it who’m I blessed to still have contact with. Two such young ladies were Sydney O’Neill and Savannah Mills. During my team’s games I met a coach from another local park Curtis Walker. I enjoyed playing his team because he was committed to the same principles of teaching and making it about the girls that I was, and because his daughter Sarah Walker was such a talented and fiery player. Curtis also coached a travel team that Sydney would go on to play with in the next season so it was great to have that continued relationship with both families. Savannah’s family went to a local church with another super family the Burnette’s. John Burnette (who eventually officiated the weddings of both of my daughters) coached a team in Buford (who Sydney hit her first homerun off of) that I began working with. Among many of the phenomenal players on that team were two bubbly young ladies named Lanae Hodnett (3 time State Champion) and Lanier Paul (4 time State Champion) During that spring season I really enjoyed watching those two teams do battle repeatedly because I got to watch players on both sides that I was working with. Last Saturday morning my heart was filled with thanks as I got to watch the Duluth Lynx take the field. A team comprised of many fine young ladies and anchored by Sydney O’Neill, Sarah Walker, Lanae Hodnett and Lanier Paul now all playing together. If I wasn’t afraid of having you tune out on me I would trace the relationships that have resulted in the past 6 years from those people to the fine young ladies on the teams that those Lynx were opposing that day. For others it was a crazy, mixed up format. For me seeing players from the beginning of my ministry play against and with players that I’ve begun working with more recently was drawn up in heaven.
Sunday I began the day with a phenomenal service at my church. The worship was great. The message was great. Fellowship was great. The rest of the day continued in the same tone as I get to spend the entire day tinkering with a new computer and learning things that I’ve wanted to know how to do for years.
Monday I got to start working with a fantastic player for the first time (Lane Simmons). A young lady whom I’ve admired for her competitive spirit, the gifts she has on the field and the sincere desire she has to never stop learning. A yound lady I had already written a post about. As if not enough, immediately after working with her I got to work with one of my favorite players in the world (Meghan Rud), a young lady that I can trace through those first relationships, and encourage her to pick up the phone and make her first telephone calls to prospective coaches. Which she did successfully on Tuesday.
Tuesday I got to start working with two more players for the first time. One of whom is another young lady who’s roots I can trace to those first relationships (Mary Johnson). Another is a colleague at works daughter (Gabi Lopez). A man I barely knew but who asked me about a bright yellow name tag lanyard I had received the day before, which just happened to read “I Love Softball” over and over and over. Yeah that’s how I roll at work. Dress pants, dress shirt and bright yellow lanyards that say “I Love Softball.” During my first lesson I always have the players write down their dreams. When I read that Mary’s dream was to play at Auburn, a school who introduced the term Wintality to me that I love, and Gabi’s was to play for the National Team of Puerto Rico I knew it was going to be a great night. I “LOVE” working with players that are trying to pursue their dreams throgh softball.
While it would seem boring to some, on Wednesday I was blessed with the opportunity finally to just do some simple yardwork. I love the environment that God has placed me and my wife in and love taking care of that beauty. So while it was cold and windy, I just relished that time. Followed up that brisk work outdoors with some simple time sharing the kitchen with my wife as I mixed up the batter for the homemade pumpkin pies (me and my daughter’s favorite) and preparing our 21 pound bird for the 13 hours it was about to spend in the smoker shortly.
Thursday was a family day, like it is for most. A day spent with our daughters, their husbands and our 3 grand children. After all of the food. The laughing. The food. The talking. And some food. Just before being packed up for the trip home our youngest grand daughter Ella decided to take her first steps walking on her own. I ended the day falling asleep on the couch watching a television show called Tanked. Yet another reality show, but this was one about a funny family that builds some of the most amazing aquariums in the world. As a person who has a 120 gallon custom tank just sitting around because I have no time for taking care of it anymore, it was awesome to end my day just reliving the good old days and seeing the amazing things that are possible with some of God’s most beautifully designed and colored pieces of art.
Just the simple fact that I am at the keyboard this Black Friday morning instead of standing in line with a million of my closest friends is in itself a blessing. As my wife and I read the flyers yesterday it became obvious that we already have not only what we need, but most of what we want as well. Our plans for the day … spending time together. No softball lessons. No family. Just time alone together enjoying the simple fact that after 27 1/2 years of marriage we still love being together.
If it were a movie the sun would be rising over a dew covered luscious field of green grass. One by one the camera would move from face to face. As it panned out you would begin getting the bigger picture, the picture of a ball team. Soon you would begin realizing that they were one of many, warming up for the battles that would unfold before you on the big screen. Soon the heart touching orchestra music would fade and the camera would begin meandering through it all as you heard the faint voices of the coaches and the players. It would finally rest on our heroine as you started hearing the music she was listening to. As she completed her mental preparations for the day, she’d remove the ear buds and put them away along with her iPod, pump her fist and storm out of the dugout with the loud noise that only cleats on concrete can make.
But this is my post, not a movie and as I approached the cloud covered, frost bitten fields yesterday in Duluth, GA and could see my breath the picture was quite different from a movie I can assure you. In the movies the weather is always perfect, and you know who the heroine will be. In real life the weather is often brutal, and at 8:00 AM you have no idea how the games will unfold. But you see that’s entirely the beauty of it. The fact that the players have to compete against each other under such diverse conditions, and accept and play through whatever situations come there way, and at the end of the day when the sun has set, and the briskness of the autumn air has set back in, the ones that rose above it all, the ones that understand it is a team of heroines and not just one are the ones standing tall. The ones that you just jump out of your seat, with your cold knees, and your stiff back and you throw your glove covered hands around. They are the ones with the tears of joy welling up in their eyes because they are going to bed forever changed by what they did on that day. That single cold, fall day when they were the David facing their Goliath, and they delivered the fatal blow.
The fatal blow in this case being a 7 run, late, inning marked by lots of singles, bunts moving runners and of course the gratuitous fist pumping Grand Slam just for the folks in Hollywood. What I love about this game, and the amazing players I have the privilege of knowing and working with is that those kind of innings never happen at 8:00 AM, they are always at the end of the day. Because comebacks like I witnessed are never marked by a single player, it has to be a team effort. To the 18U Gold Duluth Wildcats I say:
Thank you for the opportunity to watch a team of girls who despise losing fight until the end, never having given up.
Thank you for the opportunity to watch a team of girls who never turned down the throttle on their intensity just because it was cold and late.
Thank you for the opportunity to watch a team of girls who always lifted up and never doubted each other.
Thank you for …. THE PERFECT DAY.
How can the Softball Cruise Clinic possibly get better?
By video taping it for the world to see of course.
That’s right I just got the news that Gary Leland of Softball.TV will be joining us for the cruise and will be video taping segments for his show so that the entire world will get a glimpse what you and I will be partaking in first hand.
That’s so cool.
The Buford Wicked that is. Although they had played a rough tournament yesterday most of the players made it out for a custom team clinic and every player gave me 100% of their attention and 100% effort. While I’ve worked with 1000′s of girls it always inspires me to look into a girls eyes before we start a diving session and see fear, then watch her kick fear in the butt and do it anyway. I got to watch every player that was their do just that. Full speed, flat out, head first dives into bases. In the words of Boston Rob from Survivors that’s just “WICKED” AWESOME. Of course if any of you read this, don’t think for a minute that the next time I come out to work with you that I’m going to take it any easier on you.
If you know me at all you know that I LOVE teaching girls the game of fastpitch softball. So it may shock you that teaching softball wasn’t the thing that I loved most about the recent softball clinic cruise. The thing that I absolutely enjoyed the most was just getting to see the girls and their families just hanging out and having a good time together.
Usually when I get to see parents it is in between them running one child to one practice, swinging by McDonald’s with the others and then rushing to get to lessons at my house. When I see the girls they’ve been stuck in a mini-van fighting with their little brother/sister for 30 minutes on their way to my house, and they’ve fought with their parents about some school project. On the cruise what I got to see was families coming together and enjoying life for a change instead of being torn apart by the hussle and bussle that surrounds normal life in the fastpitch lane.
While not everyone can afford to do a softball clinic cruise to relax together, I hope that you will consider stopping to smell the roses as a family in some way, shape or form. Set aside one night per week where there is nothing on the calendar but time to just relax together. Go to a park. Or next time you have a softball tournament in another town leave a day early and go do some sight seeing together before the chaos begins. You just might find out that at 2 miles an hour everyone in the family gets along much better than they do at 100 miles an hour.