I recently hosted a meeting with a group of parents with one of our younger teams. An immensely talented group. I thought it would be good to share some advice and recommendations from those who came before them over our first 10+ years. I asked a group of folks,
What advice would you give to younger parents in our organization, knowing what you know now and also, what advice would you give your younger self?
Here are some of the responses I received and quotes I shared. Yes, I got a bit teary eyed reading them and felt like The Beatles “In My life” should be playing in the background.
Founding Parent, Class of 2018: The Vipers organization was started by a bunch of friends that loved playing softball together. They are still friends to this day and they are 21 years old. I think that says a lot about the organization. My daughter learned a lot about softball and life by playing with the Vipers. Some of our fondest memories is watching her play for them. The girls had fun playing together while learning valuable skills. If I could go back to when my daughter was 12 I would love to just sit back and enjoy the game. Don’t worry about every pitch or strike out. Enjoy the ride! It goes by too fast!
Founding Parent, Class of 2018: Open eyes and open ears learn more than open mouths. Practice because you love the game and want to be better. Vipers will become as close as your family. Fostering and nurturing your growth as a person and a softball player.
Parent of 2 players, Class of 2019 and 21: Vipers was the perfect softball experience for my daughter. She enjoyed town travel but always sought to be on a team where all the girls took the game as seriously as she did. Vipers provided that environment and the perfect mix of Tournament play and in season and off-season training. During her four years, she went from the kid they all called “peanut” to a three-time all county and one-time Allstate player. And most importantly a state champion. She made the best of friends along the way and was always supported and encouraged by Bobby during the ups and downs that inevitably come with playing this game. As a parent there is simply nobody I would trust more than Bobby with my daughters softball development. Vipers made all the difference for her.
Parent and Member since 2014: Hmmm…well, 1st, this is when softball gets fun…when the pitchers throw strikes and the girls hit and make some plays. And this is the time you’ll come to understand just where your daughter fits in the larger softball landscape, and how important softball is to her. Not to you…to her. And if it is important…if she wants to play in high school and maybe college someday, there’s no better place than the Vipers. From cost to competition to the family vibe, you won’t find a better organization. That’s not to say they’re perfect. No organization is. You’ll find yourself wondering why the hell you drove 3 hours to face lackluster competition, and you may wonder why your daughter is sitting “again.” Stick it out…it’s worth your time and effort. And I can say the few who didn’t stick it out and went elsewhere regretted it, and some even came back. If you do stick it out, your daughter will learn important life lessons, make lasting friendships, and who knows, in 6 years (it goes fast) may even play in college thanks to the skills learned here. Enjoy the ride.
Parent and Member since 2014: 1. There is no “I” in team. 2. Don’t speak for your children, encourage them to find their own voice and speak for themselves. You can’t and won’t always be there to solve their problems – they need to learn how to deal with any obstacles that may come their way. Communication is key and I did feel that VIPERS always allowed an open flow of communication.
Parent and Member since 2015: As a parent you have to realize it’s not about your child getting a softball scholarship into a big time school it’s about them playing a game they love. Learning to be part of a team and most importantly making life long memories and great friends. The Vipers organization exemplifies that.
Parent and Member since 2016: As a parent you have to learn how to step back and evaluate your child’s goals. Not your goals. most importantly the child is learning and enjoying. Then enjoy the journey with your child
Premier Player (since 2014), All County: I would say that it all leads up to something big and to enjoy it and don’t underestimate it because it all goes by really fast
Premier Player (since 2015), All County: Trust the process and to enjoy the process as well. it all goes by really fast so make sure your enjoying yourself
Premier Player (since 2014), All County: Do all the little things right-put in the extra work at your lessons, work hard in practice because it will all translate over to the games.
These are their words, not mine. Not the organization’s. Not an advertisement or a Facebook post. Notice how nothing here talks about a single game or tournament…not a bad call or making a pitching change to early or late. Not about getting an MVP medal or what a roster should have been. This is about the journey…the wonderful softball journey parents and children take together and the friendships and relationships they make along the way. The one thing I can attest to and agree with, it certainly goes by way to fast. I wish I could stop the clock for a bit, or get into a Delorean and go back a few years and do it all over again. You know what? The collective experience, good times and rough ones made me stronger, made the organization stronger and allows us to do what we do today! I would not change a single thing.