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"Coaching doesn't start with X's and O's. It starts with believing that players win games and coaches win players." -- Bill Courtney

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Ringneck Tournament - News and Views

For 37 years softball teams from all over the Midwest have met in Sioux Falls, SD to take part in the Ringneck Tournament. Although they don't need to change much, the 122 team event still continues to grow.

"We haven't really changed a lot. We're still looking for teams and it still fills up quick. We begin taking entries in January and the tournament is usually filled in a week and a half. We get a good draw from the Canadians, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, and of course our own state of South Dakota getting in it," Morgan said.

Morgan admits as busy as she is filling out the standings while putting them out on Twitter, she still loves to get out and see how the Rushmore State stacks up against different competition.

"It's fun to get out and watch the local teams and how well they are doing against the other teams that come in. It's also fun to see the different caliber of play that the other teams bring in. I think when the younger girls were here on Friday and Saturday they like to see what the older girls can do in a game. It's kind of interesting for everybody," Morgan said.

This tournament has something for everyone from age nine to eighteen. So how long will Morgan continue to put together one of the biggest softball events in the country?

"As long as they will keep me on the board," Morgan said with a chuckle. "We're having a good time with it and enjoy it as long as we have the passion and drive to be out here supporting softball, while allowing the young kids to get on a team and enjoy the sport.

Source: KELO

Editors Note:  One of the things that contributes to the success and overall enjoyment of the Ringneck tournament is the fact the whole city of Sioux Falls, SD gets involved.  They don't have much choice... Over 100 teams with about 80% of them outside of the area, fill up hotel rooms, restaurants, sporting goods stores, entertainment areas, etc.  The newspaper covers the event before it starts, during and after.  The television news covers it with video.

I was somewhat amazed at the number of people that were there watching games, from Sioux Falls, with no kids playing in the tournament.  Some were older, had kids that played the game, some played fastpitch earlier in their life (men and women), some were bringing their young ones out to see the game that they will most likely play in the future.

These are things that may only be possible in mid-sized cities like Sioux Falls, Mankato, Duluth, Fargo, Rochester, etc.  The Twin Cities has far too many events for televison and newspapers to cover them all.

Hats off to Sioux Falls for providing another outstanding tournament this year and to the community for supporting it so well!

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Youth sports 'spill over' to career success

So you weren't team captain -- in fact, you mostly warmed the bench -- and the Tinytown Tigers never led the league.

No matter. Proudly list high school sports experience on every résumé, now and for the next 50 years of your career. Past participation in competitive team sports marks you as a winner in the competition for better jobs, a Cornell biodata analysis has determined.

"Research with current workers and with retirees tell us: Participation in competitive youth sports ‘spills over' to occupationally advantageous traits that persist across a person's life," says Kevin M. Kniffin, postdoctoral research associate in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

In a study of what current workers expect from potential new hires, "former student athletes are expected to possess relatively greater leadership ability, more self-confidence and heightened self-respect, compared to people who didn't play a varsity high school sport," Kniffin reports. "In a study of late-career workers, former student-athletes demonstrated similar characteristics in addition to greater prosocial behavior in their 70s, 80s and 90s."

Kniffin and co-authors (Mitsuru Shimizu, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher during the study and professor Brian Wansink) wrote "Sports at Work: Anticipated and Persistent Correlates of Participation in High School Athletics," which the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies published online this week. Some 43 percent of current high school seniors compete in sports, the researchers report.

Their test of workers' opinions about leadership abilities and character traits surveyed 66 adults (41 were women, average age was 39 years, and a third had played competitive sports in high school). Survey subjects were asked: What kind of employee is most likely to display "self-confidence, leadership, time-management skills, volunteerism, charitable behavior and self-respect?" Choices were adults who, as youths, played varsity basketball in high school, ran for the school's cross country team, played trombone in the school band or participated in the yearbook club.

Whether or not they, as high-schoolers, played competitive sports, most workers agreed: Participation in youth athletics makes adults more self-confident leaders with lots of self-respect.

The only votes has-been trombone players and yearbookers won were "volunteerism" and "charitable behavior." Former athletes were not expected to excel in those "prosocial" arenas, according to the study.

But a funny thing happened on the way to 80. In the new article's second study -- involving 931 retirement-age men -- former varsity athletes reported significantly higher prosocial volunteerism and charitable activities. Also, many ex-jock octogenerians parlayed 65-year-old leadership skills into successful management careers -- some at the highest level.

Without dissing school band marchers and yearbook editors, Wansink, the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior, says: "Something very special happens on scholastic playing fields and tracks and basketball courts. Student-athletes, whether or not they are captains or leaders of their teams, are exposed to leaders in an environment that rewards transformational leadership. The focus in youth sports is on prosocial traits: respect, trust and confidence. That experience spills over wherever their adult lives take them."

The research was partly funded by Cornell's Institute for the Social Sciences.

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Hyperspecialization Is Ruining Youth Sports--And the Kids Who Play Them

The national furor over concussions misses the primary scourge that is harming kids and damaging youth sports in America.

The heightened pressure on child athletes to be, essentially, adult athletes has fostered an epidemic of hyperspecialization that is both dangerous and counterproductive.

One New York City soccer club proudly advertises its development pipeline for kids under age 6, known as U6. The coach-picked stars, "poised for elite level soccer," graduate to the U7 "pre-travel" program. Parents, visions of scholarships dancing in their heads, enable this by paying for private coaching and year-round travel.

Children are playing sports in too structured a manner too early in life on adult-size fields--i.e., too large for optimal skill development--and spending too much time in one sport. It can lead to serious injuries and, a growing body of sports science shows, a lesser ultimate level of athletic success.

We should urge kids to avoid hyperspecialization and instead sample a variety of sports through at least age 12.

Nearly a third of youth athletes in a three-year longitudinal study led by Neeru Jayanthi, director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, were highly specialized--they had quit multiple sports in order to focus on one for more than eight months a year--and another third weren't far behind. Even controlling for age and the total number of weekly hours in sports, kids in the study who were highly specialized had a 36 percent increased risk of suffering a serious overuse injury. Dr. Jayanthi saw kids with stress fractures in their backs, arms or legs; damage to elbow ligaments; and cracks in the cartilage in their joints.

Because families with greater financial resources were better able to facilitate the travel and private coaching that specialization requires, socioeconomic status turned up as a positive predictor of serious injury. Some young athletes now face surgeries befitting their grandparents. Young hockey goaltenders repeatedly practice butterfly style--which stresses the developing hip joint when the legs are splayed to block the bottom of the goal. The sports surgeon Marc Philippon, based in Vail, Colo., saw a 25-year-old goalie who already needed a hip replacement.

In the Loyola study, sport diversification had a protective effect. But in case health risks alone aren't reason enough for parents to ignore the siren call of specialization, diversification also provides performance benefits.

Kids who play multiple "attacking" sports, like basketball or field hockey, transfer learned motor and anticipatory skills--the unconscious ability to read bodies and game situations--to other sports. They take less time to master the sport they ultimately choose.

Several studies on skill acquisition now show that elite athletes generally practiced their sport less through their early teenage years and specialized only in the mid-to-late teenage years, while so-called sub-elites--those who never quite cracked the highest ranks--homed in on a single sport much sooner.

Data presented at the April meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine showed that varsity athletes at U.C.L.A.--many with full scholarships--specialized on average at age 15.4, whereas U.C.L.A. undergrads who played sports in high school, but did not make the intercollegiate level, specialized at 14.2.

We may prize the story of Tiger Woods, who demonstrated his swing at age 2 for Bob Hope. But the path of the two-time N.B.A. M.V.P. Steve Nash (who grew up playing soccer and didn't own a basketball until age 13) or the tennis star Roger Federer (whose parents encouraged him to play badminton, basketball and soccer) is actually the norm.

A Swedish study of sub-elite and elite tennis players--including five who ranked among the top 15 in the world--found that those who topped out at as sub-elites dropped all other sports by age 11. Eventual elites developed in a "harmonious club environment without greater demands for success," and played multiple sports until age 14.

The sports science data support a "sampling period" through at least age 12. Mike Joyner, a Mayo Clinic physician and human performance expert, would add general physical literacy-building to the youth sports menu: perhaps using padded gymnastics gyms for parkour, which is essentially running, climbing or vaulting on any obstacle one can find.

In addition to athletic diversity, kids' sports should be kid-size.

In Brazil, host of this month's World Cup, kids are weaned on "futsal," a lightly structured and miniaturized form of soccer. Futsal is played on tiny patches of grass or concrete or on indoor courts and typically by teams of five players.

Players touch the ball up to five times as frequently as they do in traditional soccer, and the tighter playing area forces children to develop foot and decision-making skills under pressure.

A futsalization of youth sports generally would serve engagement, skill development and health.

USA Hockey (which has barred checking in youth games) recently invited adults to play on a 310-by-130-foot ice rink to show them what it's like for an 8-year-old to play on a regulation rink. The grown-ups' assessments: "too much time between the action"; "it's hard to communicate because everyone is spread out so far"; "you end up spending a lot of time in open space."

Futsal, basketball and padded parkour? Sounds like a strange three-sport athlete, and a perfect model for kids.

Source: Pro Publica

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Participation in West Fargo youth sports grows significantly

Participation in West Fargo summer recreation programs has gone bonkers.

"We have more kids in our youth baseball, softball and T-ball programs than Fargo. That just blows me away," said Barb Erbstoesser, executive director of the West Fargo Park District.

Summer park programs run from June 1 through the end of July, with a few extending into August.

This year, 1,119 children ages 4-13 signed up for park district baseball and softball programs, said Lance Belisle, recreation manager.

Another 1,000 play baseball in Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth programs that are not part of Parks and Recreation, he said.

Youth soccer has 448 kids enrolled, from 3 years old to kindergarten, he said.

Another 300, first grade and up, play with the independently run West Fargo Soccer Club, he said.

"We know that three to five years down the road those numbers are going to look dwarfed compared to what's coming," Belisle said.

"We've had an explosion in everything," Erbstoesser said.

That's made it hard to find coaches and parking space, said Belisle.

Credit that to rapid population growth -- 72.9 percent from 2000 to 2010 -- boosting West Fargo's population to an estimated 30,000 people.

"There's all the new developments in West Fargo, and they are all young families that are moving in," said Belisle.

Baseball registrations were up about 120 kids over last year, he said.

"With young families in town having kids, that need gets greater in the future," Belisle said.

The city could use another four to eight baseball fields, he said.

So far there are plenty of soccer fields. "We have a problem with parking for all the families that come to the facilities," Belisle said.

"We've just got to be creative to maximize the space that is given to us," he said.

Finding enough coaches hasn't been easy, either.

"It's definitely a struggle, especially for soccer and baseball coaches," Belisle said. "We also try to get parents to help out when possible."

Interest in soccer has spiked dramatically in the past five years in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Belisle hopes that kids now playing soccer will become involved in coaching when they become parents.

"I have no problem finding basketball and baseball coaches because most parents who played those sports are willing to help their kids," Belisle said.

Established West Fargo hockey programs have made it easier to find parents with hockey experience that are now willing to help coach, he said.

Overall, feedback has been positive. Complaints have been minimal, considering the number of kids enrolled in West Fargo programs, Belisle said.

"We do the best we can with what we are given," he said. "We're trying to offer the best programs we can for the residents of West Fargo."

Source: West Fargo Pioneer

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Founders of failed youth baseball league charged with multiple counts of theft

Leaders of a failed Tacoma Washington Area youth baseball league that collapsed in 2013 amid accusations of financial mismanagement face multiple charges of theft and unlawful issuance of bad checks, according to charging papers filed Wednesday by Pierce County prosecutors.

Prosecutors charged Ryan Rhoads, 41, and Eric Jacobs, 42, with two counts of second-degree theft; three counts of writing bad checks; one count of attempted second-degree theft; and one count of third-degree theft.

Rhoads said he didn't want to comment. He said he was not aware of the charges and referred questions to his attorney. Jacobs did not respond to a phone message.

Charging papers do not list the total tally of money victims allegedly lost to Rhoads and Jacobs. The charge of second-degree theft refers to assets of more than $750, but not greater than $5,000.

Charging papers state that Rhoads and Jacobs wrote bad checks in excess of $23,000.

The two founded the Pioneer Pony Baseball League in 2011, and dabbled in other investment ventures that attracted youth sports parents. Many parents and investors reported they were swindled or deceived.

"Unfortunately, Pioneer Pony Baseball was a long con," Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said. "Many members of our community contributed money so that children could enjoy and learn from our national pastime. Their hopes and trust were exploited."

The league's bank account closed in October 2012, with a negative balance of $3,192. Court records state Rhoads and Jacobs continued to run the league for another year without a bank account, and used a check-cashing business to cash multiple payments from parents.

Records also state Rhoads tried to cash additional checks on the baseball league account eight months after the account closed.

Documents filed by deputy prosecutor Jennifer Hernandez include a summons requiring Rhoads and Jacobs to appear for arraignment on July 16.

Rhoads faces a separate charge of second-degree theft filed in 2013, tied to an unrelated incident involving a bad check written for repairs to his Land Rover.

Charging documents state Rhoads and Jacobs collected fees from parents for baseball uniforms -- $311 apiece -- that were never provided. Records examined by The News Tribune include statements from unhappy investors who say they lost more than $100,000 to Rhoads and Jacobs.

Charging documents also note Rhoads has been listed as a respondent in 31 civil cases in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties, and currently owes more than $768,000 in judgments.

Jacobs is listed as a co-respondent in three of the cases, which resulted in excess of $600,000 in judgments.

Source: News Tribune

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Softball Coach Banned for a Year

Hazleton Area's head softball coach is suspended from coaching at any school in District 2 of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) for the entire 2014-15 season.

The ruling came down on June 24 following a District 2 investigation into allegations Vince Trivelpiece, who has been the Lady Cougars head coach for six seasons, played an ineligible player in two games this season.

In addition to the one-year coaching suspension, the softball team has been placed on one year of probation through the end of the 2014-15 season. Any infractions of PIAA rules and regulations could jeopardize the team's eligibility for postseason play, district Superintendent Francis X. Antonelli said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Attempts to reach Trivelpiece for comment Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Antonelli said he will recommend the board open the head softball coach position.

The superintendent said he believes District 2's decision is just and fair.

"I think the transgressions were addressed in an appropriate and fair manner by the PIAA committee," Antonelli said. "Concussion management and head injuries are a matter of serious concern for all athletes. Obviously there were serious risks involved with returning injured players to the field. The consequences could be not only life-altering, but life-ending."

A written notice of the decision from District 2 Secretary Mike Ognosky informed Hazleton Area officials that the District 2 committee "hereby sanctions the Hazleton Area Varsity softball coach for his actions in the utilization of an ineligible player and is publicly censured."

Attempts to reach PIAA District 2 President Frank Majikes for further comment were also unsuccessful Tuesday.

Trivelpiece was suspended by district administration in late April and an investigation was launched after reports that an ineligible player participated in the Lady Cougars' game against Wyoming Valley West on April 2 and against Lake-Lehman on April 13.

Assistant Coach Ted Treon took over the head coaching reins in Trivelpiece's absence for the rest of the season and the team had to forfeit the two games in question.

Officials of PIAA District 2 convened a hearing June 17 regarding the incident.

At the hearing, the board examined events of the two games played by an ineligible player and reviewed PIAA bylaws addressing codes of ethics pertaining to high school athletics, the health, physical evaluation, certification and re-certification of student athletes, and guidelines for medical coverage for athletic events.

The hearing resulted in a six-point decision from District 2 that includes Trivelpiece's one-year coaching suspension and the softball team's one-year probation.

The decision also requires the district to develop "an effective communication plan involving the high school administration, athletic administration, health department, athletic trainer and the entire coaching staff regarding the transitioning of injured players back to eligible status following injury in all sports."

Prior to returning to coaching in District 2, the hearing board said Trivelpiece must also attend coaching education programs on "Coaching Principles" and "Safety and First Aid."

The District 2 board also commended school district administration for taking "quick and decisive action" on the incident.

The school board will convene a special meeting July 15 at 5:30 p.m.

Director Jared O'Donnell, chairman of the board's athletic committee, said he intends to recommend the board take swift action to open the coaching position.

"That is something that I am going to propose we do in the best interest of the student-athletes to preserve and strengthen our softball program," O'Donnell said. "It's been a tough situation."

Antonelli said, "I think it's important for the student-athletes to move forward. To put this behind us and plan for the new season."

Source: Standard Speaker

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StrikeZone Sports and Next Level Fastpitch Announce New D1 Exposure Clinic

Michelle Harrison, StrikeZone Sports is co-hosting a national level recruiting camp, run by some of the top DI college coaches in the nation, September 13-14, 2014 at the Irish Sports Dome in Rosemount, MN. This camp is the first of its kind at this caliber to ever be held in Minnesota. The camp is open to all fastpitch players with high school graduation years of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The clinic will feature 10 DI college coaches, who will instruct the camp participants directly! This camp is an opportunity for each attendee to be exposed to 10 different DI college coaches at the same event. Here is the current college coach attendee list:

  • Quinnipiac University - Jill Karwoski
  • University of Minnesota - Jessica Allister
  • Arizona State - Boo Gillette
  • University of North Carolina - Tony Baldwin
  • Auburn University - Scott Woodard
  • University of Oregon - Jimmy Kolatis
  • Indiana State University - Shane Bouman
  • North Dakota State University - Jamie Trachsel
  • Radford University - Michelle Carlson
  • Purdue University - Jason Dorey

There is only have room for a total of 150 participants (50 participants each for 3 separate camp sessions: Saturday AM, Saturday PM and Sunday AM) and that number is limited by position as well. Registration cost is $250/participant, and all participants must be registered by July 15, 2014.

This camp is open to ALL fastpitch players nation-wide. No spots can be held. Get your registration in as soon as possible. This camp will fill up quickly.

If you are outside the graduation dates mentioned above or are already committed, please feel free to forward this link to anyone you think may be interested in taking advantage of this opportunity. Your support is appreciated in getting this out to our fastpitch community!

Please do not hesitate to contact camp hosts, Michelle Harrison and/or John Corn, with any questions. They look forward to putting on a great camp and providing the highest level of camp exposure to the Minnesota fastpitch community and greater northern midwest region!

Clinic Information and Registration

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