Today is always a day of anticipation and excitement each year . . . the early National Signing Day! Players, parents, and coaches work so hard to have an opportunity to play the game they love into their 20s and today’s signing day is an exciting celebration of that culmination for many of our seniors. For those that are still weighing their options, the next few months will provide that opportunity to celebrate as well. On behalf of the entire Extreme organization, I would like to personally congratulate each of these athletes and their families! The work has just begun, congratulations on achieving the opportunity to pursue your passions further!
- Josie Wagner (Calvin College)
- Ashley Poore (Quincy University)
- Kaylie Kaufman (Lindenwood University)
- Charlie Erler (Lipscomb University)
- Nick Beeler (McKendree University)
- Reece Kulick (University of Missouri-St. Louis)
- Caden Clark (McKendree University)
- Zach Kraabel (Spring Arbor University)
I am extremely proud of these young men and women that are committing today to their future universities. Unfortunately, in the early part of my coaching career, the early signing day along with Sunday afternoon wins, and tournament championships were some of the only days that I could celebrate my value as a youth coach. The signings, trophies, and scholarships . . . while all-important and rewarding for the athletes and their families, it often still left an empty feeling as you realize those memories or aspirations can fade away as quickly as they began. The relationships, the hearts changed, the future success of the young men and women . . . finding opportunities to celebrate these true areas of impact was difficult and lost in the grind of prestige and pride.
By the grace of God over the last few years, today isn’t the only day we can celebrate as Extreme coaches and parents. With the commitment to being a 3D youth program, celebrations are more frequent and provide even deeper impact. For example, in just the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed our 3D players and coaches accomplish so much every week:
- Recently in between tournament games in Jacksonville, IL some of our youth softball teams visited the local hospital to bring goodies for the patients. Parents Kristen Grenzebach, Danielle Foley, and Leslie Tesluk-Ecker led this effort and helped over 50 families experience Extreme Pride with the local residents of Jacksonville.
- This week, one of our youth baseball teams took the initiative to schedule a visit day to a local assisted living facility in Fairview Heights. The Extreme word of the month is SERVE and this team is using this month as an opportunity to serve their community’s elderly.
- Many of our national teams grind through the showcase and recruiting process. The players, parents, and coaches commit much time and resources to this pursuit of passion. This past weekend in Chattanooga, TN, many of our national teams were rewarded with many collegiate coaches scouting them and congratulating them on the way our players played, coaches coached, and fans supported. The Extreme Way was set apart and noticeable to the 75+ coaches watching them. The future is bright for our young players that strive to play this game for many more years.
- In a local retail store last week, I saw a 12-year-old Extreme athlete wearing their Extreme Student-Athlete award tshirt, proudly! This young man was being a light in his community not only as a ball player but as a student! Just witnessing this brought the same type of excitement that I feel for the 18 years olds signing their NLIs today!
It’s every day, it’s in the fabric of our families and coaches. It’s who we are.
We do love trophies, scholarships, and high level baseball and softball . . . and we will keep celebrating these accomplishments for the next 20 years. But we love people, we love our communities, and we love our 3D athletes. Let’s celebrate them daily.
On this exciting day for our Seniors, I do choose to celebrate each one of them . . . I look forward to the photo ops, the balloons, the fake pen writing (lol) and the gracious hugs. I look forward to following their success over the next 4 years and welcoming them in to our alumni group. We are blessed that the 100+ alumni of our program continue to help our Extreme Family as coaches, trainers, and other supporters of the Extreme. BUT along with celebrating our Seniors today, I feel even more fulfilled as an Extreme coach and parent that I can celebrate each day of the month with the hundreds of players in our organization that are all accomplishing great impact in their schools, communities, and families. The signing day is a testament to the pursuit of a passion . . . but being a 3D person and ballplayer is a testament to a life of service and fulfillment.