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St Cloud State Huskies - Softball Semi-Private Clinic Sessions August 1, 2014 - March 8, 2015
Minnesota State Univ. Mankato Mavericks'  Elite Prospect Camp - Session 1 September 27, 2014
NDSU Fall Clinic -- Pitching and All Skills Clinic   October 5, 2014
St. Benedict Fall All-Skills Clinics - Session 2   October 18, 2014
St. Scholastica Prospect Camp   October 18, 2014
St Cloud State Softball Clinics - Catching and Defense Clinics   October 19, 2014
St Cloud State Softball Clinics - Pitching Clinics   November 2, 9, 16 & 23, 2014
St Cloud State Softball Clinics - All Skills Clinic   November 2, 9, 16 & 23, 2014
Minnesota State Univ. Mankato Mavericks' Elite Prospect Camp - Session 2 November 2,, 2014

See the CLINICS PAGE for more information!


Appeals court upholds Title IX ruling against Sweetwater

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a 2012 ruling that the Sweetwater Union High School District violated federal gender-equity laws by not providing female athletes with the same amenities as the boys.

Judge Ronald M. Gould affirmed a lower-court ruling on Title IX issues, agreeing there had been systemic discrimination against girls.

Title IX is a 42-year-old federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, including athletic programs.

Girls softball players from Castle Park High School in Chula Vista sued the district in 2007, stating they had inferior facilities and fewer opportunities to play than male student-athletes.

The class-action lawsuit, Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School, et al., was filed by the California Women's Law Center, Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP.

"It's an important victory not only for the district but the nation, saying that at the high school level, second-class treatment of female athletes must be eliminated," said Cacilia Kim, attorney with the California Women's Law Center. "It sends a clear message to high school administrators that it's a federal statute that applies to everybody."

In 2009, U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz made a summary judgment against the district. The district lost the suit in 2009 and paid nearly $500,000 in legal fees.

The district appealed on the basis that the standard of girls sports facilities outlined in Lorenz's ruling did not apply to high school sports. The district argued it aligned with university-level sports.

In 2012, Lorenz ruled that Castle Park softball players had been "denied the opportunity to participate in high school sports on an equal level with male students at their school."

That same year, following a 10-day trial, he also found that the district violated Title IX throughout its athletic program's nine areas, including coaching benefits and publicity. The case also involved retaliation.

Kim said that after the district court ruled in favor of the players, that softball coach Chris Martinez was fired in retaliation.

She said the ruling is significant because most Title IX cases consider only one area of a program. "But our case was different in that it was everything — the program as a whole."

One of the original players, Veronica Ollier, recently graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. "This experience has helped me become responsible and independent as a female," she said. "I hope in the future that girls can advocate for themselves."

Manny Rubio, spokesman for the district, said Sweetwater has ensured future equality between both genders.

"As a district we've taken significant actions to ensure that there is parity among boys and girls sports. We will continue to take efforts to provide equal access to all students."

The district has since made $1.6 million in improvements to the softball field. It was dedicated in April.

Source: UT San Diego


Youth sport: positive and negative impact on young athletes - Excerpt

Over the last two decades, a notable rise in specialization has occurred in youth sports. More young athletes are choosing a single sport to participate in all year round at younger ages, with infrequent breaks and rest. This continued participation concentrated on one sport is believed to increase the risk of sport-related injuries, peer isolation, burnout, psychosocial problems, and attrition. Further, some antisocial behaviors involving negative peer interaction and lack of cooperation skills may lead to social isolation caused by early sports specialization.

Despite numerous studies showing that athletic performance at an early age is unreliable in predicting future ability to perform successfully in a chosen sport, many parents encourage their children to specialize. Pressure for early specialization to maximize athletic skills for future social, financial, and educational rewards is generated by parents, coaches, neighbors, society, and colleges.

Unfortunately, the reality is that 98% of young athletes will never reach the highest level in sport. Trying to identify young athletes who are genuinely talented is very difficult and unrealistic, given the degree to which children change in their physical, psychological, emotional, and cognitive domains from childhood to young adulthood. The earlier a young athlete is identified as having talent, the more uncertain is the prediction of future success.

Ericsson's studies of deliberate practice emphasize that at least 10,000 hours of dedicated practice is necessary to achieve excellence in a skill. He further believes that an individual is not born an expert, but expertise is developed over time. In the literature on identification of talent, a key component in achieving long-term success is an athlete's internal development regarding love of the sport which provides sustainability for the endless hours of practice, instruction, and competition necessary to become an elite player.

Motivation to participate and endure the highs and lows is more indicative of a promising future than skill or sport readiness at an early age. Studies that have looked at organized sports programs in the Soviet Union show athletic advantages stemming from diversification not specialization.

Because of concerns about the health and well-being of young athletes, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend specialization in sports before the age of 12--13 years, and encourages 1--2 days off a week, two months of recovery each year, participation in only one team per season, and limiting changes in training volume to 10% per week.

In addition to sports specialization impacting the young athlete, the financial burden impacting parents and the family is also significant. Some families sacrifice vacations, savings, and normal family structure to support the athlete's sporting endeavors. Many parents feel excellence in sports will pay for future college expenses; however, the majority of athletes will not receive enough money to cover the cost of today's tuition.

Less than 4% of high school athletes who participate in boys' soccer, girls' soccer, football, and basketball play for a division I or division II school. Only one of 100 high school athletes will receive a division I athletic scholarship. The average scholarship awarded in 2003--2004 for a division I or II school was $10,409, which covered about half the cost of a state school and 20% of the cost of private school attendance.

Most often, the financial investment in private lessons or coaches, sports camps, participation in elite teams, showcase tournaments, and travel expenses over the middle and high school years exceeds the value of the college scholarship.

Even more unrealistic is anticipating that a young athlete who demonstrates elite skill potential will achieve professional or Olympic status. It is estimated that one in 6000 high school football players will play in the National Football League, and that only 2--3 in 10,000 high school basketball players will play for the National Basketball Association. In addition, less than 20% of junior elite athletes and 0.2% of high school athletes will achieve elite status in adulthood.

The above examples are the extreme costs of youth sports; however, even participation at a basic level for physical activity and fun can be a financial hardship for some families. Basic costs include uniforms, equipment, league fees, travel expenses, and footwear. Urban youth have additional expenses, with neighborhood fields and recreational centers being absent or not maintained, and both sport and safety equipment being outdated or damaged.

A decrease in governmental funding for youth after-school programs has limited accessibility and feasibility for sports participation in lower socioeconomic areas. Dwindling financial resources also contribute to attrition in sports. Fortunately, a few nonprofit organizations are emerging in inner cities to provide positive opportunities for at-risk youth.

For children who do have access to organized sport, the majority of them being Caucasian from suburban neighborhoods, the influential role of the youth sports coach cannot be overestimated.

At times, the athlete spends more hours a week in the presence of a coach then interacting with the family so, by default, the coach becomes a model for behavior. In one study, both parents and athletes rated the majority of youth coaches as only good, with 25% reported as less than good.

Regulations regarding the requirements for coaching a youth sports team are almost nonexistent and vary widely across states, municipalities, and type of sport. The level of experience among youth coaches ranges from a volunteer parent, who perhaps has no experience with the sport, to paid coaches of elite teams.

Most coaches are untrained in the strengthening and conditioning principles necessary for the young athlete, emergency management of sports injuries, or in basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and automated external defibrillation, which results in an increase in the rate and severity of injuries for participants. The concept of educational requirements for coaches was met with resistance because the materials proposed were viewed as unreliable, ineffective, and lacking in comprehensiveness.

Thirty percent of youth report negative actions of coaches and parents as their reason for quitting sport. Athletes have even reported being called names, insulted, and shouted at by coaches. Other negative coaching behaviors observed by athletes included cheating and fighting with parents, referees, and other coaches. Some athletes also felt pressured to play while injured.

Other reasons cited for sports attrition linked to coaching behavior included favoritism, poor teaching skills, and increased pressure to win, all of which created a negative atmosphere and decreased the fun of playing sport. A direct correlation is noted between a positive or negative sporting experience and attrition rate.

Participation in sport is widely believed to improve moral character, sportsmanship, and ability to collaborate towards a common goal. However, these secondary gains in sports participation cannot be assumed and must be facilitated by positive role modeling on the part of parents and coaches. Accordingly, facilitation of a negative sports environment by adults who are directly or indirectly involved in supervision of youth programs results in negative social behavior.

Parents, in addition to coaches, can create high levels of stress and anxiety for the young athlete. A parent can inadvertently set a child up for failure by establishing unrealistic goals for performance and winning by forcing a young athlete to participate in sports beyond their readiness and interest. A child who is unable to perform as expected by parents and coaches may lose confidence and seek alternative avenues for fun.

Problem parents who behave inappropriately by putting too much emphasis on winning, having impractical expectations, and criticizing or pampering their children are encountered frequently by high school coaches. These parental pressures may contribute to a negative sports experience for the maturing athlete. Unfortunately, conflict between parents and coaches is observed all too often in sports culture.

With less than 20% of high school students involved in sport, reducing attrition rates for those engaged in youth sport is important. Combating sports-related injuries, high-pressure environments, and negative behavior on the part of both parents and coaches appears to be an initial viable intervention to mitigate problems in youth sport.

Source: National Institute of Health


A scary situation in Kansas - Opinion by Greg Kamp

Being involved in youth sports now for 25 years, nothing would surprise me. Yet, the society in which we live has thrown me another curveball that I just can't get around on. Let me tell you what our youth sports world has come to.

After a youth football game just outside of Wichita, Kansas, a father confronted the coach regarding his son's playing time. The father lifted his shirt to show he had a gun tucked in his pants. The father and his buddies then began beating the coach. One of the assailants actually had brass knuckles and repeatedly hit the coach in the face.

The coach's wife came upon the scene in the parking lot and immediately pulled a gun of her own and fired a shot into the air, causing a pause in her husband's beating. At that moment, the coach staggered to his car where he reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a gun of his own. The coach and his wife aimed their guns at the group of men. Witnesses report that they told the group to leave and never come to another football game, for if they did, they would not leave the game alive. The men took heed and left the scene.

Police reports say that none of the witnesses in the parking lot, including the coach and his wife have, nor will, disclose the name of the father or his group of pals. Authorities have also questioned the players to no avail, as it seems as if a code of silence has been implemented.

This story makes me, and I hope you, completely sick. As I began to hear of this incident my emotions were already high and frankly thinking that things like this are reasons why so many programs can't find good, qualified coaches for our kids. Then I read the part about the coach and his wife carrying and pulling firearms in reaction to the confrontation. How did we get to this point in youth sports?

As parents, coaches, youth sports administrators and the general public, we have to say enough is enough. Maybe background checks would have helped here, maybe not. The bigger picture here is our society, as shown through this code of silence is accepting of behavior like this. I simply ask, when will it end?

Greg Kamp is a 23-year veteran of youth sports as a coach and administrator and is currently the President of Penfield Little League and sits on the board at the District level. He is the host of Youth Sports Now, a weekly radio show, and The Red Wings Radio Show on WYSL-AM/FM. Kamp received the 2014 Monroe County Youth Advocate Award. He also runs Strategy First, his own public relations and marketing business.

Source: Irondequoit Post

News Story


Physical Fitness Associated With Less Depression in Middle School Girls

Physically fit middle school girls are significantly less likely to be depressed, according to a study presented earlier this month at the American Psychological Association's annual conference in Washington.

The study examined 437 students (197 male and 240 female) from six different middle schools in North Texas during their 6th and 7th grade years. Each year, the students self-reported their levels of depression and fitness; they also completed a shuttle-run and were weighed during each assessment. The authors sought to determine whether cardiorespiratory fitness had any influence over depression.

To evaluate whether any of the participants demonstrated signs of depression, the study authors relied upon the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC), which assesses how children felt within the past week. In 6th grade, 28.3 percent of girls and 22.3 percent of boys had CES-DC scores that suggested possible depression; 28.5 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively, had the same in Grade 7. Only 13.8 percent of the girls and 10.2 percent of the boys had scores consistent with possible depression during both years.

For girls, higher fitness levels in the 6th grade were linked to both significantly less depression and a lower body mass index (BMI) percentile score in the 7th grade. With boys, 6th grade fitness was associated with lower BMI scores in the 7th grade, but fitness was not significantly linked to less depression in 7th grade. Instead, 6th grade boys with depression had significantly poorer fitness in 7th grade.

"Depression that begins at this time can lead to chronic or recurring depression in later years," said study author Camilo Ruggero, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, in a statement. "Fitness programs are one way to help prevent depression in middle schoolers, but schools should also use other interventions, such as one-on-one or group therapy, that more directly address symptom treatment among depressed adolescents."

In the study, Ruggero noted that depression is "a multi-faceted disorder," and thus, "optimal prevention would couple fitness efforts with more direct interventions that target pre-existing symptoms or related vulnerabilities." In other words: Sticking your middle schooler on a treadmill won't necessarily prevent them from becoming depressed.

Given that, in 2011, about 37 percent of 6th graders reported being bullied at school, according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the link between higher physical fitness and lower rates of depression shouldn't necessarily come as a huge surprise. Physical appearance can be an easy target for bullies, and those who are teased frequently suffer a host of negative effects, such as higher rates of anxiety, physical health problems, and, yes, depression, according to the American Educational Research Association.

Source: Schooled in Sports


Softball catchers battle heat to play game they love

With the high temperature hovering perilously close to 100 degrees with a heat index well above that Saturday, a handful of softball players had the pressure of not just battling an opponent but also less-than-ideal conditions.

To be a catcher wearing much more gear than other players, not collapsing in the heat, proves to be quite a job.

After all, even though the catcher's shin guards, chest protector and helmet are meant to be lightweight, many come in dark colors that soak up the sun and make life uncomfortable for catchers who have to wear such gear for half the game.

It is a job that, to a catcher, none of them would give up though.

"It feels like I'm in a human oven and I'm dying sometimes," Washington senior catcher Elanna Osthoff said. "I (need) a lot of concentration and mental toughness. It's a lot of practice and getting used to the heat and catching."

Osthoff said this softball season has started different than others for a single reason.

While it is hot now like just about every other August, the summer months playing club softball leading up to the high school campaign have been mild this year.

"Coming off of this summer and coming here, it's difficult," said Osthoff, who plays for the St. Louis Fusion. "Your body isn't used to this. Last summer, it was incredibly hot and we were used to it. Coming off such a mild summer, coming into this weekend, it's very tough and it's very hot. You get drained very quickly."

Osthoff said, in addition to the mental toughness required to succeed, smart preparation can be a key to staying in the game no matter how hot it gets.

"A lot of fluids, a lot of ice water and a lot of Powerade," Osthoff said. "You have to get back your electrolytes. I use Frogg Toggs (cooling gear) as cooling cloths all over my body and I just hope that works."

Even though it can be draining, Washington coach Phillip King said he marvels at what his catcher has been able to do in the extreme conditions.

"She's a tough girl," King said. "She lucked out because the first game, she only caught three innings."

Osthoff's counterpart Saturday in the championship game of the Union Tournament was Farmington junior Olivia Siebert.

She agreed that just doing her job as a game manager can be an issue at times.

"It is hot and I've been doing this for eight or nine years," Siebert said. "If you want something, you don't give up on it. You just keep pushing it until the end.

"There are times when I think 'Oh, when is this done?' But it's a God-given talent. That's why I just keep pushing through because it's something I want. It's my passion. "

Source: St Louis Today


Division III: Classification helps students compete, prepare for future

By the time Jordan Johnson graduated from high school, she had been playing soccer for 13 years and competing in the sport for at least seven. She was burned out and had no intention of playing at the college level. That was until she visited The University of Texas at Tyler and met head women's soccer Coach Stefani Webb.

Coach Webb's desire to not only improve her players' athletic ability, but also build their character is something that appealed to Ms. Johnson.

"When I came here, she's like our mom away from home …" she said. "She said one of her big things is she wants to make better women."

Ms. Johnson, 21, of Universal City, decided to come to UT Tyler and play soccer. The senior biology major, who was named Third Team All-Region last school year, launched her last year of undergraduate work this week. She is in the last stretch of a four-year university experience that has pushed her in the classroom and on the field, but it's a challenge she appreciates.

Ms. Johnson is among more than 300 student-athletes on the campus. Although these students don't get the athletic scholarship money or the prestige of their counterparts at Division II and Division I campuses, Division III allows them the opportunity to continuing competing in a sport they love while prepare for a career in another field.


Division III is the largest NCAA division with more than 170,000 student-athletes at 444 institutions, according to the NCAA website.

It is a division in which academics is the primary focus for its student-athletes.

The division is designed to reduce the conflicts between athletics and academics by having shorter practices and playing seasons and regional competition.

Student-athletes in this division are a part of the campus and treated like all of the other students so their focus can remain on being a student first.

Dr. Howard Patterson, UT Tyler's vice president for student affairs and government relations, said the presence of student-athletes benefits the campus as a whole.

"I think it helps with diversity because you have a cross-section of students who have been in competitive sports their whole life," he said, adding that intercollegiate athletics brings an excitement to the campus and helps students become more engaged.


Patterson said the division in which a university exists is somewhat of an institutional philosophy. At UT Tyler, officials believe athletics should complement the university's mission. Because of that, UT Tyler coaches recruit academically sound students who also want to continue playing a competitive sport.

These students come to the university to get a marketable degree, but while they are here one of their dominant activities is their sport instead of intramurals or Greek life, he said.

Coach Webb, who also is an assistant athletic director, said when recruiting she considers the quality of the athlete, their academic standing and their character.

Although she wants her team to win and they always have been at the top of their conference, her goals for her student-athletes go beyond that.

"For me, I work really hard to try (to) create strong women in our program," she said.

Head softball coach Mike Reed, who is also an assistant athletic director, said beyond improving his team members' athletic abilities, he aims to teach life lessons through the sport.

He considers the softball field another classroom and his job is to help them transition from high school seniors to someone who is willing and able to function in a career.


This dual focus of academics and athletics is something that appeals to many student-athletes, but it is not an easy road.

"It's definitely been tough," Ms. Johnson said. As a biology major, all of her science classes had a lab, which often fell in the middle of the team practice.

So Ms. Jordan went to lab, arrived at practice late with the blessing of her coach, and stayed late to make up whatever she missed at the beginning of practice.

A typical day last semester was packed with a 6:30 a.m. wakeup, class from 8 a.m. to noon, a three- to four-hour lab in the afternoon, and practice for two hours in the evening.

After that, it was home to have dinner, shower, study and go to bed. A midnight bedtime was considered an early night. But the challenge has been worth it for her. She said she plays on a team with girls who become like family and she has prepared herself academically with hopes of getting into medical school.

She also made time to participate in volunteer activities in the community such as feeding the homeless on Saturdays and serving as a leader through the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Billy Lirely, 22, a 2014 UT Tyler graduate who earned an accounting degree and played baseball while doing it, also has learned about hard work and sacrifice.

Lirely practiced four to six hours a day on top of taking classes and working as a teaching assistant in the College of Business and Technology.

He said the sport taught him about determination, hard work, commitment, integrity, teamwork and friendship.

"If you're determined enough to want to be on the field, you have to do what's required in the classroom," he said. "It takes another level of effort and determination that some people just don't have."

Lirely's determination paid off as he graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was accepted to the professional accounting program at UT Austin's McCombs Business School.

"I think sometimes, student-athletes are looked at as things are given to them, and I don't think people realize how much student-athletes work for the things they receive at least at our level," he said.

Recent UT Tyler graduate Lauren Robenalt, 22, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in human resource development, said playing softball while in college challenged her and developed her.

"It was a great experience," she said. "It really was. I'm a different person because of it for sure."

She found great success on the field. Last school year, she was named First Team All-American, First Team All-Region, American Southwest Conference Athlete Medal of Honor and American Southwest Conference Female Athlete of the Year.

She said being a student-athlete helped her develop time management skills, leadership and the ability to effectively work together.

"I feel like team sports really do that for a person," she said. "I really did not expect to have the career that I did when I started my freshman year. I learned what my capabilities were, what my limits (were) and who I could count on, too."

She said she really appreciated that softball wasn't her entire life. She could play competitively, be a student and serve in a leadership role at her church.

"I just wish people knew more about Division III athletics and schools like UT Tyler where it's not the biggest and we don't have football, but there are great opportunities to grow as (an) individual," she said.

Source: Tyler Morning Telegraph