Unleash the 4S Fury
Since 2009, the 4S Ranch Girls Softball League has grown an impressive program offered to all girls ages 5 – 14. The program not only develops female athletes, but also teaches fundamentals, promotes teamwork and fosters a love for the game of softball. The League follows the tenants of the Positive Coaching Alliance while promoting a “We Before Me” attitude. The goal is to ensure the girls will come off the field feeling proud of themselves and their teammates. We talked with League President, Brandi Roberts, who has been involved with the program since its inception, about her passion and commitment to the League. She was quick to say how thankful she is for the committed families, players, coaches, volunteers and sponsors who have made the League such a dominant and exciting sport in the community. Registration is currently on-going and the non-profit organization assures those who sign up will have a bunch of fun with a new family of softball friends.
92127: What is the history behind 4S Ranch Girls Softball League?
Roberts: 4S Ranch Girls Softball was founded in the spring of 2009. Previous to that timeframe, girls who wanted to play were included in 4S Ranch Little League. We had less than 100 girls at that time and in order to continue to grow and progress with softball, it was determined that a new softball league should be formed under the rules of ASA (Amateur Softball Association).
92127: You believe in the “We Before Me” attitude. How are you instilling that in the girls throughout each season?
Roberts: We believe that one of the best parts of playing softball is about being part of a team. Each girl has a job to do to support the team, whether they are pitching, playing in the infield, outfield or even on the bench (cheering!) for an inning. If each girl does her best, the team does well. The girls form great friendships because they’ve learned to rely on each other through softball.
92127: Describe the basics of the typical spring softball season (ideally for insight from a new registrant)?
Roberts: In early January, we will have an assessment day. All girls are welcome in 4S Ranch Girls Softball, but we need to assess all girls in divisions 8U and above to ensure that we have balanced teams. We have the girls come out for 30-45 minutes and do some basic skills. Each coach assigns a score to each player and skill. Later in January, we’ll select managers and coaches and then we’ll do a draft. While we need to make sure we have balanced teams, we also try to make sure we accommodate as many friend requests as possible. We start off in February with our boot camp practices. This is a great way for the girls to get to know each other, coaches to learn from each other, learn similar drills and skills, as well as maximize our field space. In March, we’ll start our “regular” program with three meetings per week (either two practices per week and a game or one practice a week and two games). We have a fun Spring Celebration to kick off the season in early March and we play through the end of April. We finish the season with tournaments for divisions 8U and above, a fun party and trophies for all!
92127: What sets the 4S Ranch Girls Softball program apart from other recreational girls softball leagues?
Roberts: I think we work very hard to develop the girls in our League. We want them to continue to increase their skill set and we have a strong set of volunteer managers and coaches who help them.
92127: What should a player and her family expect as participants of the League?
Roberts: To learn how to play softball and have fun! It’s a tough sport – we forget that our daughters typically don’t know a lot about baseball or softball. We often have to start from scratch. So that’s why we have the girls get together three times each week. But when you see the progress each girl makes year after year, it’s amazing!
92127: There is a fundraising fee upon registration. What does this entail?
Roberts: In order to keep our registration fees low, we have to fundraise during the spring season to support our expenses. Softball (like baseball) is an expensive sport; we have to purchase team equipment (helmets, bats, catchers gear, tees) and league equipment (pitching machines, storage bins). We also share field maintenance expenses with Little League, pay the County for lighting for practices and games after dark, pay umpire costs and professional coaching fees, specifically for pitching and catching. We are a completely non-profit organization so all of the funds we bring in go directly to advancing the girls in softball.
We received feedback last year that some families would prefer to have an “opt-out” payment in lieu of doing a fundraiser. While we don’t have the snack bar in 2013 (we take turns with Little League each spring), we will do a more traditional fundraiser like Entertainment Books, discount cards or cookie dough. We have asked each family to pay a $40 fundraising deposit upfront; if they choose to participate in the fundraiser, then we will refund their deposit. This way we ensure that each family contributes to our fundraising efforts and each family gets to do what they prefer (do the fundraiser or pay the opt-out).
92127: What is your role as President and how did you and your family get involved with the League?
Roberts: My husband became a coach in 2009 when our oldest daughter was seven and started playing softball. He was later asked to be on the Board and started to become more involved. I was a team parent and later started coaching our youngest daughter in T-Ball. I was approached about the Presidency in the summer of 2011 – mostly because I had two girls in the program and I am a businessperson (I’m the VP, Finance for a local biotech company). I believe the thought was that my organizational skills would be a bonus to the League. I hope I’ve been able to live up to those expectations! I see my role as an overseer – making sure that our girls are being taken care of, our rules are clear, we meet our deadlines, etc.
92127: What is your number one goal as President of the League?
Roberts: Getting 100% of the girls who play this year to want to come back and play softball again with us. I want our girls to have a great experience.
92127: What is the most rewarding thing about being President of the League? The most challenging?
Roberts: The most rewarding part is definitely seeing the girls smile when they make progress. Watching my daughter (and her pals!) transform from ground zero at seven to a bona fide softball player at ten has been great to see. The most challenging part is probably handling complaints. I know that we will never make everyone 100% happy, but I truly believe that we have a great team of volunteers who support our League and that everyone is trying their best.
92127: If you could grant the League one wish, what would that be?
Roberts: More field space! We have so many kids who want to play baseball and softball, but we are just short on fields. We are very excited about the new turf going in at the 4S Ranch Sports Park, but when that is completed, we will still only have six fields for us to share with Little League. Other area leagues have up to 15 fields they can utilize. Obviously, this impacts how many teams we can put together, as well as our ability to host tournaments, etc.
92127: Since the organization is not for profit, how do you go about receiving necessary funds to keep the League running?
Roberts: In addition to registration fees and fundraising, we also solicit sponsors for the League. Local businesses have been great with their support; both with money and discounted or free services. It’s important for people to know that we are a little bit different than other leagues. As we share fields with other sports leagues, we don’t have our own concessions each year and haven’t had the ability to hold softball specific tournaments each year which other leagues can do to raise funds. Once the turfing is complete, we hope this will enable us to host a tournament in the future.
92127: Tell us about the volunteers who allow for the League to be so successful.
Roberts: Everyone who helps out in our League is a volunteer and we are so appreciative! The Board, managers, coaches and team parents are all volunteers and we couldn’t run our League without them. These people donate their time (and oftentimes personal funds) to help not only their daughter(s), but many others as well.
92127: If someone were to want to become involved as a volunteer with the League, how would they go about doing so?
Roberts: Just email anyone on the Board! We love to have help – we always need more coaches and we also have a few open positions on the Board! Anyone interested can start by emailing me at BrandiRoberts@4srgsbl.com. Anyone who coaches or is going to help in the dugouts will need to get background checked. The league pays for the cost of the background check.
92127: Have you had any of your players go on to play in college and/or on a professional level?
Roberts: Not yet – our League is too young! We work with Del Norte High School so that our girls get to know the coaches there and see what it’s like to play high school softball. Del Norte has clinics each spring and many of our girls attend them each year. It will be great when one of our girls goes on to play in college – I’m sure it’s just a matter of time!
92127: Are you hosting any clinics prior to the start of the spring season?
Roberts: We plan to do boot camp again in February – times to be posted later. We also plan to have five or six pitching clinics between January and March – this is usually one of the toughest positions to work on so we are excited to provide these types of clinics for the girls.
92127: By the time this is printed, registration will be coming to a close. Please tell our readers how they can register if they haven’t signed up yet.
Roberts: Due to the generosity of 92127 highlighting 4S Ranch Girls Softball in this issue, we’ve decided to extend registration through January 10, 2013 at no additional cost. Players can sign up online at www.4srgsbl.com and contact firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions. The more girls, the merrier!
Full Name: 4S Ranch Girls Softball League
Year of Establishment: 2009
Board Meetings: Once or twice a month, typically on Wednesdays [/tab] [tab title=”2013 Sponsors”]
Age range: 5-12
# of Players: 178
# of Teams: 17
# of Coaches: 34+
# of Volunteers: 50+
# of Balls Used: More than 600!
# of Gloves Used: 178
EXECUTIVE BOARD POSITIONS
Brandi Roberts – President
AJ Robinson – Vice President
Scott Wells – Treasurer
Adriana Garza – Secretary
Chris Archer – Player Agent
Clint Bailey – Head of Division Directors
Niki Wells – Registration Director
Kevin Peterson – Scheduling Director
Jay Bautista – Sponsorships and Fundraising Director
Chris Scioscia – Director of Umpires
Greg Shimansky – 6U Director
Steven Chung – 8U Director
Pepper Lane – 10U Director
OPEN – 12U Director
Jennifer Smith – Uniforms, Trophies and Pictures Director
Angela Farace – Concessions Director
Mark Roberts – Equipment Director
Scott Wells – Field Maintenance
Steve Kuptz – Liason – Del Norte High Coaching
Christina Pablo – Website/Social Media Director
OPEN – Publicity Director
Jennifer Smith – Parent Coordinator/ Spirit Wear