A post on the UTM website has recently come to my attention. In it, disparaging remarks were made regarding our program and others operating in Ontario. We utilize that website as a tool for try-out announcements (since it reaches many people in the softball world). Unfortunately, someone has taken it upon themselves to judge our program based on the two years we have been established. It is true that our 16U and 18U program have unfortunately failed to qualify for a National bid. It certainly doesn’t sting any less to see it used as an insult. That’s not fair to our teenage players who are at a very impressionable age. By insulting our program, this anonymous person insults our young players. Now, as a coach, I need to say something about this. You can’t allow bullies to operate unchecked. For the players and coaches of the TFC alike, getting to Nationals is a deep rooted program goal. Nothing would make our players more proud and elated then to earn a spot to compete for a National medal. Their desire is reflected by every extra bit of effort they put forth to get better, to be better, to compete.
With that said, this post is the only response that will be provided to that post. I want to take this opportunity to point out some really good attributes of our program that are so easily swept under the rug by anonymous critics.
Since we left Brampton, a program that I, Lauren Spohn, grew up in and held very close to my heart, we have been working tirelessly as volunteers to continue to provide the same atmosphere of excellence that I had the pleasure of growing up in. If you would like to see the players that have gone through Alan Spohn’s program, feel free to visit our program graduates page. It is there as a testament to our history and provide hope for our future. Our program was designed to expand over time. With that, no team becomes a power house over night. Players and coaches alike earn their dues. With a brand new program, it can take a couple (or a few years) for an identity to be created and maintained. In our first year as a team (2015), we expanded from 18U to a Junior squad as our graduated 18U 2015 Brampton squad that finished fourth at Nationals in their final year, needed a place to play as they didn’t have one anymore and wanted to stay with us. That Junior squad finished 2nd at Provincials in our first year behind the Brantford Bobcats, a team we truly respect and enjoy playing year in and year out. Rivalries can be a positive thing when it’s rooted in respect.
In creating this second team, more volunteers were required, more field time was sourced, friendships were forged between our new 18U team and our 21U players that still continue to this day as they saw each other often in our private training centre over the Winter, Spring and Summer. Further, in fall of 2016, we added a Bantam 16U program, again due to demand, headed by program graduate, ex-professional softball player, Flagler University Alum and former National Elite Team, Robyn Draper. Another 100% volunteer program coach coming back to help youth softball in Ontario. This was something that I was very proud of, as any exposure to the talent that I was around growing up only helps our players advance. I’d also like to take this opportunity to send a huge thank you for the volunteers that make time in their schedule to help us out over the winter.
In 2016 & 2017, we had 1 current TFC player named to the Canadian Junior National Team as well as a former player that chose to move on after our first year. Our first program graduates now attend prestigious schools such as Simon Fraser University in B.C., Rhodes College in Memphis, Durham College, Mohawk College and McMaster. Everyone of our Toronto Fastpitch Club program graduates have gone on to post-secondary institutions and continued to play softball. That is definitely a source of pride for our coaching staff.
Just as impressive, our now-Senior (Provincial Bronze Medallists) team (had to go up a group due to the age of one of our most loyal and beloved players), now boasts 1 Junior National Team member and 2 Elite Team members, as well as over 8 NCAA, NJCAA, OCAA & CIS athletes. As such, the work ethic, leadership and joy these players bring to the table rub off immensely on our current 16U and 18U players. Getting to share the field with some of their idols is a real honour and a privilege. We provide them with a space and chance to work together and learn from each other, as a TFC family.
Now, I do my best to avoid the gossip and negativity out there, as it’s so easy to get sucked in. So, I hope this article sheds light on some of the really positive things happening within the Toronto Fastpitch Club from 16U to Senior. You can even go over every article of our website for further information. We’re an open book, so to speak. Please be sure to watch the videos created by 18U player Shardon Geluch. She’s very talented, and she really captured the essence of our team.
I only volunteer to support softball in Ontario. As an ex-collegiate and junior national team athlete myself, the decline of softball should be avoided at all costs as it provides a safe and nurturing environment for women to thrive in their developmental years. As is usual, I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone out there would like to volunteer as a coach, feel free to send me your softball resume, and we can get together to discuss options and get to know one another.
With upcoming try-outs, (click here for our full 19U try-out schedule) please remember softball needs to be a safe place for young players and should never be used as a tool for hatred of any kind. The real world has enough of that as it is.