Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Season Ends with a 5th Place Ontario Provincial Ranking!

By Manager Paul Scott

The 2002’s Squirt 2014 Season will long be remembered for many things; girls who came together and competed at a very high level, the friendships created on-and-off the field (among the girls and the parents), as well as it being a very unexpected season!

Our vision for this team last September was that of a group of girls coming together at a younger age, teaching them the basics of softball, and building upon these skills until they have developed to the highest level possible. All this while learning to respect the game, their opponents, and each other. To be a team in every sense of the word and to create a safe spot on the field for the girls to come and just play the game.

We played on the diamonds until the ground became frozen, then we moved indoors to the gym. Again, we were surprised by the commitment and the hunger to work at learning the game by our girls. We were equally surprised at the generosity and the level of commitment by the parents who sacrificed much to get the girls to-and-from practices.

Finally the winter weather broke and our infant season began in earnest. Six returning 12 year old veterans of travel "Rep"  ball with 7 rookie teammates! First up, the US - Ohio swing! Playing ball against older and bigger U.S. opponents! A tall task, and it would be expected that any group of girls would simply go out to be relentlessly punished by our more established American cousins. Not this team, they handily beat the first team that they met in a 2 hitter gem by our pitcher/catcher. All bats on fire, an explosive offence, and a shutdown defense! Then reality set in and they met some very established and skilled teams. This team never quit, regardless of the odds against them, and they learned from their experiences. Was there something special here?

Then came the mid-summer swing of our schedule that saw the girls play locally against Canadian and, again, some older more experienced American teams. By now, the girls were battle-tested veterans (with 2 tournaments under their belts) and we medalled in the next 3 tournaments taking Bronze, Silver, and Gold! This was not at all expected by this little group who had just come together, but the coaches and parents were learning the true power of a “team”. No one girl more important, or less than the other, regardless of their role or position in the line-up or field. Each girl played with their heart and with passion whenever called upon.

As the seasons end approached, we learned that a team of unknowns had somehow become ranked Provincially in the top 10! Again, the Coaches marveled at how word spread about this new little group and the power of their being a team.

Up next, the “Mad Season”, the time that all Ontario teams push towards the goal of making the A-pool and competing at the very highest level of softball in Ontario, but could a first year team get there? Could they compete? We had our doubts, all of us, and we again would be surprised by this team.

The first step was The Qualifiers. Hosted locally in Windsor, we would see our little group play against a local established rival twice, and earn an A-pool birth by defeating this very worthy opponent in 2 international tie-breakers! It was an amazing experience. Again, parents and coaches marveled at this group, their diversity, and ability to overcome obstacles. Winning under the lights after a lightning delay in an International Tiebreaker to get into A-pool of the Grands will always be remembered by us all. Movies are written the way this one ended! 

Finally, the Grands……..the A-pool. A little team that had come so far was now stacked up against the GIANTS of Ontario. The best-of-the-best. Again, our little group surprised us and beat 2 very respectable opponents in 2 very different ways. The first game they did it with very tight defense and great pitching, and then they swung the bats while heaven poured on us! In the end, our little team ran out of steam and lost as the tournament progressed seeing us make it to the elite Sunday match-ups. All that they had accomplished was earning a ranking of 5th in Ontario at the Elite level! That’s it, that all they accomplished, or was it?
This truly was an Unexpected Season. When we first planned this team out as coaches, we never expected the girls to catch on so quickly, adapt and overcome as they have, nor become the team that they are! They truly are a team. They like and get along with one another like no other team that I have been a part of. If asked what I am proudest of this year; is it the medals?, the top 5 ranking?, the development of the girls?, or their many personal accomplishments? My answer is simple; I’m proudest of these girls for being good teammates, friends, and just good kids!

It has been a privilege to Coach this team and to see the girls all grow in ability and spirit. As a parent, I am proud my daughter is a part of such a team!

Thank you,

Coach Paul


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