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.
The 2016-2017 Network Training season was our best yet and only looks to get better this year. All of our teams did a phenomenal job showing up and putting in the work to make themselves and their teammates better. Our goal as a coaching staff is to improve their performance on the field but also prepare them to live healthy lifestyles when their playing does are done.
This past year one team in particular stood out. This was not because of their athletic ability or strength but because of the work ethic and commitment they had to get better. The team’s culture was motivating and inspiring to work with. They always had smiles on their faces and were very coachable. The coaches and players kept each other accountable to work hard and do the little things when they weren’t with us. That team was our 14U Futures Softball team led by Coach Kelsey Washam. Coach Kelsey and her staff created a team dynamic that was supportive and challenged her team to not only become better softball players but better people.
I recently asked Coach Kelsey and one of her players from the team about their experience with our strength and conditioning program and how it affected them over the course of the season.
First I sat down with Coach Kelsey to talk to her about the impact strength and conditioning had on her team.
“The biggest benefit I found this year was our team had little to no injuries all year. We have several athletes that play multiple sports and train year round in addition to our busy travel schedule…we experienced zero major injuries that prevented any of the players from sitting out multiple games”.
What kind of differences did you notice in your athletes from the time they started strength and conditioning to when they finished?
“The biggest differences I noticed from the start and end (of strength and conditioning) were improvements in endurance, reaction time and coordination. Overall the team was able to play several innings in one day in the heat with little to no soreness or fatigue. I also noticed their reaction time when fielding or running decreased over the course of the year. In general, I noticed a big improvement in overall body coordination on and off the field”.
How did your athletes’ conditioning hold up during long tournaments?
“I attribute our ability to stay healthy all season to the work the team put in during the season and off-season with strength and conditioning. More than half of my players took advantage of extra training sessions offered by our Network performance coaches during the off-season to supplement our regular team Network training. In addition, many of our girls took advantage of the non – network performance offerings provided by CrossFit Collinsville. The consistent commitment to strength and conditioning by our team was huge for overall team health”.
What would you say to the younger teams who are starting strength and conditioning training for the first time this year?
“I constantly tell young athletes that I wish I would have started strength and conditioning at a younger age. I didn’t really get into it until I started playing softball in college and at that point it was a catch up phase. Take advantage of the opportunities you have now and always find a way to implement strength & conditioning into your skills training. Swinging a bat 100-200 times a day will help your muscle memory but you won’t be able to hit the ball over the fence unless you get stronger-that’s not going to happen in the cages”.
EXTREME BASEBALL COACHES,
I am excited to share with you a snapshot of what 2016-17 looked like, regarding our Extreme Network pitching. There is a tremendous amount of effort that is made when it comes to the safety and development of our Extreme Baseball athletes’ arms. Continued research and improvement of our throwing / pitching systems to encourage proper arm health and velocity development remains top priority in our Network curriculum and that was evident this past Network season. Of course, the challenge is to continue to improve and the 2017-18 season will see just that. First, let’s recap last season.
18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U Defeats SoCal Athletics Despite Allowing 4-Run Inning
SoCal Athletics scored four runs in the third inning, but 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U still won 8-7 on Thursday. Both offenses were strong at the plate as 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U collected ten hits and SoCal Athletics seven.
After SoCal Athletics scored one run in the top of the second, 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U answered with one of their own. SoCal Athletics scored when there was an error, scoring one run. 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U then answered when there was an error, scoring one run.
18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U took the lead for good with seven runs in the third inning. In the third Sarah Hangsleben singled off of #23, driving in one run, Sara Hoffman hit a grand slam off of #92, driving in four runs, and Jill Niehaus singled off of #92, driving in two runs.
Carly Robinson earned the win for 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U. She threw five innings, allowing seven runs, seven hits, and striking out one. #15 took the loss for SoCal Athletics. She tossed one inning, giving up zero runs, zero hits, striking out one, and walking zero.
Niehaus and Hangsleben each collected multiple hits for 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U. Niehaus went 3-for-3 at the plate to lead 18U Gold Extreme Elite 18U in hits.
SoCal Firecrackers Almost Erases 4-Run Deficit In Loss To Extreme Elite Gold 16U
Extreme Elite Gold 16U got out to a four-run lead in the fourth inning and held on for a 6-5 victory over SoCal Firecrackers on Thursday. SoCal Firecrackers scored three runs in the failed comeback on a single by #44 in the fourth and a error in the seventh.
An early lead helped propel Extreme Elite Gold 16U to victory. Extreme Elite Gold 16U took the lead on a double in the first inning.
Extreme Elite Gold 16U captured the lead in the first inning. Abigail Stahlhut doubled on a 1-0 count in the first inning, scoring two runs.
SoCal Firecrackers scored four runs in the fourth inning. SoCal Firecrackers scored its runs on a single by #44.
Extreme Elite Gold 16U collected seven hits. Brooke Brown and Mandy Curbeira each collected multiple hits for Extreme Elite Gold 16U. Curbeira and Brown each managed two hits to lead Extreme Elite Gold 16U.
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