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Competing against travel programs


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#1 Jamief

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Posted 09 July 2014 - 02:35 AM

So we made it to our divisional final tonight and got beat by an awesome team. They were like a well oiled machine.

We believe they have been playing together for years and you can tell. They play year round 40+ games in and outside of LL. Totally dominated. Made us think what are we doing wrong.

Our program won our district with 13 girls chosen from 2 teams a month ago. They played their hearts out but against this program they were completely over matched.

Is this typical? This program won the state last year and based on what I've seen should win again. Kudos to them for finding a way to build a strong program but how can small leagues without travel programs compete.

How are they getting around the tournament rules about "practice" or tryouts before June 1st? Is it just a coincidence the tournament team plays on the same in town travel team?

#2 Lou Barbieri

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Posted 09 July 2014 - 01:34 PM

Many leagues/teams "skirt" the rule by having a local travel team that is "independent" from the local LL.

The Travel Team does not use any LL Uniforms, Equipments, Supplies,etc. it gets its own insurance, etc ...

 

Is it a coincidence that when it comes time for the local LL to select it's Tournament Team that most (all) of the LL Players just happened to also play on the local Trave Team!!!

 

The further you advance in The Tournament the more likely you are to play against such teams.

Good or Bad, it's become a fact of life.



#3 amutz

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Posted 09 July 2014 - 03:19 PM

Agree its a fact of life.  I don't think its always aimed at LL championships.  Our local league had a group of kids who were very strong as 10s and wanted to play more high-level ball.  They formed a travel team and played for several years (as 13s and 14s too).  (Since the kids were split across 2 divisions, they did not compete as a team for the LL Allstars. )  Its no surprise that this group was strong, and grew into the best players in the league.  



#4 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 09 July 2014 - 04:46 PM

While I don't entirely support it... one piece on the flip-side of this has been some local leagues have had folks create travel teams that require they play for that Little League... so that they don't lose the kids to other travel teams and can control the schedules more. 

 

I get the motive behind it... but it can be a real gray area. Not quite charcoal...  



#5 Jamief

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Posted 09 July 2014 - 06:36 PM

We were fortunate to play them twice in the divisional double elimination tourney. It was impressive to watch.

We (the board members at the game) looked at each other and asked each other "what are we doing wrong?" The answer I believe is Nothing. We have a strong group of girls that play hard but have a life outside of softball. They play soccer or basketball or ski.

It takes dedication, commitment and a lot of money to get to that elite level. A level we could never achieve by only playing from April-June in the spring and a paired down fall ball season from Late Aug-Oct.

It was impressive. I hope they go far. Then our girls can hold there heads high and say that they were eliminated by the state or region or WS champs.

We are proud of all our girls. They accomplished a lot in a short period of time.

#6 stan.staziak

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 05:55 PM

Our LL was in the situation of the OP.  Got manhandled by a couple of teams and the question was what the heck are we doing wrong  they should not be that much better than us.  The answer was form a LL based travel team meaning you must play our LL to play; unfortunately that lasted one year before the coach took the team and left left the league with the players. As 12's this year only one of those players played LL and they cut half the team and picked up more talented kids from surrounding communities.  The lower aged kids are starting to splinter now as well. 

When my kid moved to Cal Ripkin, they keep their all star team together all year and play travel ball together and house.  The league (as in C/R league) allows for this.  Its all covered under insurance etc.  So not only do we do this but so do all the local leagues at least in Northern VA, it seems to work quite well, we keep the kids and get to play travel and get the reps.



#7 Jamief

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 02:56 AM

Quick update:

The team won the sectional game and now leads 1-0 in the state final.

The same LL has won their district in the following:

9/10 softball
10/11 softball
11/12 softball (currently in state finals)
juniors softball

Impressive but still leaves me scratching my head. How can we get to the next level??

#8 DCBaseball

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 01:31 PM

The disparity in communication by LL on the policies regarding the cross pollination of travel and Little League into one cohesive program is puzzling. So many Districts seem to have been doing exactly that for years while others remain mired in the belief that LL and Travel ball, like church and state, must remain 100% separate. The "have nots" run their leagues believing that no amount of effort can be put into a Travel program by the LL or it's Board members. The "haves" openly and publicly promote their affiliation and support of their Travel Program which unsurprisingly produces 99.9% of the All-Stars at the end of each LL season. As many have shared, it seems to take a lot of discipline and commitment to keep a Travel program tied to your LL because once the kids (and parents)get free of the constraints of 46/60, no leads, and feet first sliding....they don't want to come back or they don't have the time and commitment to do both and choose travel over LL. But the Leagues that are able to create a strong, programmatic bond with a travel program do reap the benefits in the post season tournaments. That is undeniable. But the other undeniable fact is that travel ball takes money. The truly "have not" leagues do not have the financial resources to support LL and travel. Their families and the kids also do not have the resources or opportunity in many cases to participate on their own in travel outside of the League and as such they will arrive at year end LL tournaments woefully unprepared for the competition that awaits. Long way around to saying that unless LL is planning to level the playing field and support "extra play" opportunities like travel ball for all leagues and not just those able to finance it, perhaps they should enforce rules to keep them separate.



#9 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 01:54 PM

Let's not say "for years", Paul... it wasn't that long ago that we had restrictions on dual participation and early tournament participation, and had leagues visibly removed from the International Tournament for playing in unsanctioned early tournaments.



#10 DCBaseball

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 02:34 PM

It has been at least 3 years in this region that large leagues, mostly in Northern VA, have had space on their websites promoting their affiliation with or partnership with "XYZ" travel program. The coaches and board members have been openly involved in both programs. Those leagues have unsurprisingly performed very well in post season tournaments. The relationship between those programs and with what is now NVTBL goes back much further.

 

The current OM, Red Book, still starts with a stern directive that no board member shall at the same time be a board member or act as a representative of another youth baseball/softball program. How can you reconcile that when the same organization basically runs both programs? So what if they have two different boards? They share fields, concession stands, coaches, players and umpires? 

 

For a less well run league to show up and have to compete with that kind of organization is not a level playing field. It just isn't. Have you seen any of the regional scores coming out of NY state? 50-0 games? Come on.



#11 amutz

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 02:47 PM

The player and family 'have vs have not' discussion is an important one.    Getting travel season training and reps definitely has a big impact on skill and ultimately on player success.  About 10% of the kids in our league play travel ball as 11s or 12s.   It hasn't made us a powerhouse in Allstar competitions, but it does mean the motivated kids whose parents can afford travel ball get development opportunities other kids do not.  That translates into the opportunity to advance to Majors more quickly, as well as to Allstar play.  It would be great to see lower cost and scholarship opportunities like we have for little league to open that opportunity up more broadly.  Little League has a great history of letting everyone play.      


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#12 Lou Barbieri

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 02:48 PM

Years ago in SB in Florida no one could compete with Naples/Fort Myers.

They had the powerhouse programs and yes, their players played in both LL and Travel Ball.

Took some time but eventually other leagues started doing the same thing and they got to be successful.

 

Look at the list of past LLSB World Series Champions.

From the 1990s to the mid-2000s Midland LL in Waco, Texas won something like 10 World Series.

Do you think they did that with their players only playing LLSB?


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#13 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 03:15 PM

Well first... there hasn't been a regional game played yet. Second, the 50-0 game that I have heard of was in Maryland, involving Elkton and Perryville, it was in baseball and it is two leagues that I know quite well having worked that district for several years. 

 

I am not saying that it doesn't happen and it isn't a very gray area... it most certainly is and the traditionalist in me does not agree with it at all. At the same time, in listening to the head of the MLB union and John Smoltz in two interviews five minutes apart on ESPN this morning, the first thing they mentioned when talking about the alarming number of arm surgeries in professional baseball was the "travel ball mentality" and "10 year olds playing 100 games per year." What is one way to curtail such "abuse"? Having the local Little League gain some form of "control" over the travel program so that schedules can be monitored and kids aren't lost as quickly to these overzealous programs. So I get it... I don't necessarily like it and I think we need to find some middle ground, but I do understand it. 

 

Also, the definition of "another youth baseball program" has become clouded in recent years. Is one travel team a competing "organization"? It was originally meant to be Babe Ruth or Dixie or PONY, etc. Am I arguing for the travel teams? No. But that is the argument that they present... 

 

But when you say "for years"... three isn't "for years". I have 28 years in this organization... "for years" is more like 10 or more. 



#14 DCBaseball

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 03:46 PM

While my tourney descriptors may have been off and my geography less than exact, this discussion is about the issues related to LL post-season tournaments and the direct or indirect impact of travel programs being  affiliated with the leagues involved. My league has only been in existence for four years so for me "three years" is the first time I ever checked and for as long as I can speak with certainty.

 

Questions:

  • Can a league form and directly support a travel program?
  • Can that program consistently  feed into and become the LL All-Star team?
  • If you don't name the LL All-Star team until June 15th or 2 weeks prior but they have been playing together for as long as a year...is that legal?....is that fair to the leagues that cannot afford to do so?

Ask 10 different DA's or League Presidents and the answers will vary greatly. That is my biggest complaint, the lack of clarity.



#15 Lou Barbieri

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 04:42 PM

"Can a league form and directly support a travel program?"  NO, not according to LL Rules/Regulations.  The Travel Team/Program must be "independent" from the local LL.

 

"Can that program consistently  feed into and become the LL All-Star team?" IF the Travel Team (Program) is independent from the Local LL and IF the players meet the LL Eligibilty Requirements then YES the players on the Travel Team could feed into/become the LL All Star Team.

 

"If you don't name the LL All-Star team until June 15th or 2 weeks prior but they have been playing together for as long as a year...is that legal?"  Again, YES if the Travel Team is independent from the local LL.

 

"is that fair to the leagues that cannot afford to do so?"  Obviously not but such is life. 

That is:

Are all LL complexes/fields the same, NO. 

Are the players in all the leagues equally equipped, NO.

Do all the leagues have the same number of teams/players so that they are on an equal level when choosing All Stars, NO. 

etc, etc, etc. 



#16 DCBaseball

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 06:41 PM

Lou....thanks for taking the time to respond. I think what I was trying to say, poorly articulated as usual, was that most people involved don't understand what's allowed and what is not and that it is even possible to do that. And as others have pointed out, even if some leagues wanted to, they could not afford to.



#17 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 03:05 AM

Sorry I didn't answer sooner... was on a rainy diamond for state tournament assignment tonight. Lou is correct in what he said. 



#18 Guest_Dave P_*

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 03:29 AM

The more successful LLs in my district work in "partnership" with their travel programs in the same area. Leagues that fight the travel programs, the "us versus them" crowd, see declining numbers that increase year after year.

One league, maybe our largest league at one time, recently ended their partnership with a travel program in the same town (new people took over the LL Board). This league saw a drop from 7 major teams to 4 in one year.

A smaller league (estimated to be about 150-175 kids 5-14), partnered with the travel organization in their area when that travel group started a few years ago. They are always very competitive come tournament time. Another league in our area did the same thing to the point that you can't play for their travel team unless you are also playing LL. They are also very competitive.

On the flip side, a small league I know fought travel tooth and nail when the travel program started a few years ago. Their junior kids come to my league. For the 2nd straight year, they didn't offer a 9-10 tournament team. Their 12-11 team for the past two years is 0-8 and the ratio if runs for versus runs allowed is like 12-100.

My point is - the LL board has a choice; fight travel or try to work out common ground with them.

#19 amutz

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 05:42 PM

Dave P's correct in my opinion.  We have several local travel ball clubs and they work with us by offering  to volunteer in training opportunities.   One or two of our board members are fervently opposed to travel ball but most are ok with it.

 

The most successful local (D52) program this year is Pacifica American.   Most of those kids have been playing travel ball together as Pacifica Chaos (or Chaos) for the past 3+ years.    Ton of talent there obviously too.  The results are impressive to watch on the field.

 

This is their 9yo roster from 2011:

http://www.usssa.com...&teamid=1530630

 

This is their LL Allstar roster:

https://leagueathlet...rg=pallball.org



#20 Jamief

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 12:24 PM

Well the team that beat us in the divisional games made it back to the regional.

Just looking at the regional teams and of the 11 teams in the softball east region 5 are the same teams from last year. I think that's pretty amazing and says a lot about those programs.



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