We haven’t posted much about Team PFX this Fall . . . we should have. Last summer, we were approached by several travel ball parents and asked to provide their daughters with a “Division I experience.” Given the opportunity to introduce young ladies to a Division I experience while also providing post-collegiate players a chance to stay in the game . . . how could we resist? Of course, we said “yes!”
After a series of tryouts and coaching selection, we had our team. A group of bright, young athletes and a bright, young coach (Tiffani Brown, FSU ’14) formed the first ever PFX travel ball team. Together, they started on a journey that is still new but already so rewarding!
The first practice (and tournament), we really wanted to see what we had. How did the players compete against other teams? Against themselves? To what standard do they hold themselves, when no one else is watching? When their competition is better? Less talented? For anyone who has ever coached a group of 13-16 year olds, you know, it’s not easy! But it has been so much fun.
Our wins have primarily been for our own benefit: improving our swings, picking up coach around the bases, communicating as a team. Every week, we pick one thing to work on and we focus on it and bring it to the next set of games. It is quite remarkable to see these young ladies hold themselves to a higher standard than they have ever been held to before – by others, sure, but also by themselves.
Our practices are run like Division I practices. With a coaching staff of two former DI players and one DII/DIII baseball player (no parents), we don’t know any other way to run them. The conditioning has been one of the biggest “eye-openers.” And that’s what has led me to my post tonight.
After just 10 weeks, we timed the ladies tonight so we would have updated times for our upcoming showcase tournament. We could not have been more proud. Less than three months ago, most of the young women on our team were supra 3.0 home-to-first; some, closer to 4.0. We asked around to be sure we were measuring them correctly, afraid we were holding them to too high of a standard . . . we were not; they just needed work to get faster. So we focused on conditioning every practice and even brought out an Olympic-level sprinter to reinforce what we were teaching them (hey, go big, or go home, right?).
Tonight, when we measured their times. From 3.2+ measurements just six weeks ago, tonight we had five ladies hit a sub-3.0 second home-to-first. We made them execute five times just to be sure (a few accused us of having faulty equipment!) . . . but we had it right. All of the young women had improved their times by .2 or .3 or even .5 seconds . . . that was crazy, right!? We had one sub-2.7. We knew she was fast, we just didn’t realize HOW fast . . .
So, I am writing tonight because I am so proud of these young ladies. There was nothing we, as coaches, could have done to MAKE them run faster: we gave them the tools and they took them and applied them to their game. We have seen so many similar improvements over the past 10 weeks but none so stark, so measurable, as what we saw tonight.
This game is not always about who wins and who loses, but about leaving all you have on the field and letting the best team (for the day) take home the “W.” We may not always take home the win, but we will always win as long as we are playing just a little bit better than we did the day before. And Team PFX is playing so much better than it ever has been . . . the possibilities of the future are exciting, to say the least.
Good luck, ladies, in your next and future endeavors! We are so proud of you!