Teams inevitably go through periods of ups and downs. One thing that I’ve found to be consistent, is that all things will eventually change. As a coach, I’ve witnessed our players make a transition from young girls who played the game for fun, or social acceptance; to young ladies who’ve had to learn to treat the game they love as more of a business. Between college scholarships, balancing “personal” and “work” time, and the financial commitment required to compete at such a high level; the pressure is enormous and the stressors are numerous. Fortunately, our team has a terrific support system, anchored by positive and engaged parents, strong organizational leadership, and talented players who truly love the game.
Despite these positive attributes, I witnessed new struggles begin to emerge this season. The normal peaks and valleys that I’d seen in the past, were deeper and more pronounced. It became more difficult to inspire the team and their motivation was lacking in ways unseen before. If there wasn’t “something on the line” they just weren’t putting forth the effort that was commensurate with their talent. Our team batting average dropped over 30 points, our pitchers were not looking as sharp as they once did, and certain opponents that should not have been a problem for us were unexpectedly challenging. As a coach, you must accept that these realities were bound to happen at some point. The biggest obstacle has been how to effectively respond to these issues while keeping things in the proper perspective for the players, parents and other coaches on the staff.
Here are some of the things we’ve implemented that have helped with the transition during this pivotal season:
Give The Players a Voice. I’ve always believed in giving my players a say over certain aspects of the game and team tasks. By expanding these responsibilities, the players really received a heightened sense of connection to their team mates and to the game itself. By having open, honest dialogue where every player must speak publicly, ideas started to flow. Solutions emerged from this synergy amongst players and coaches.
Shake Things Up. The gift and the curse for us, is the fact that the core of our team has been together for many seasons. As a result, certain things began to be taken for granted, such as playing time, positions, batting order, etc. By deliberately mixing things up and taking players out of their comfort zone, they began to see the value in earning rewards versus being given rewards.
Turn Them Into Teachers. One proven technique to determine whether a person truly understands something is to ask them to teach it. Having certain players teach certain drills, or give lessons to younger players, or to explain a concept to a team mate is a highly effective way to measure the growth and maturity of a player while also reinforcing their understanding of fundamentals and softball concepts.
Invite a Guest. This was probably the highest risk/highest reward tactic used this year for us. With playing time being a constant concern for players and parents, adding new players to the mix creates some angst. In our case, I was presented with the opportunity to have a guest pitcher added to my roster, which already included four pitchers at the time. Despite all efforts to carefully balance the playing time and to reinforce the value of earning rewards, not everyone was open to this at first. My thought process was that successful people seek to learn from other successful people. A keen student will observe and mirror the actions of those around them that can make them better. Although it took some time to settle in and to trust the process, over time, this was a highly rewarding decision that will pay dividends into the future. Clearly, having the “right guest” at the “right time” is critical to this one being effective. Be sure to align yourself with individuals who share your values!
I hope these ideas offer some food for thought to other coaches who are facing similar challenges. I speak with other coaches all the time and receive great tips from them regarding things they do to overcome obstacles they face. Remain open to new ideas and above all else, know that you are not alone. Softball is a lifestyle. Live it to the fullest.
May 17, 2015 Georgia Elite-Hoover with guest Matty "Hoss" Moss Gold Cup Champions!
-Australia Hoover, Head Coach
February 4, 2015
Jordan Doggett, Class of 2016 Middle Infielder has verbally committed to the University of North Georgia in the Peach Belt Conference. Jordan made her decision after visiting several programs in the nation, including schools in the Big 10, Atlantic Sun and Big South conferences. Jordan felt that after touring the facilities at UNG and getting to know Head Coach Mike Davenport, it was the right fit for her. “It’s the perfect distance from home, far enough but not too far away; and the facilities were beautiful” said Jordan.
This marks the second Georgia Elite player to commit to coach Davenport at UNG. Fellow team mate Lexi Duncan also recently verbally committed as well. Jordan and Lexi are excited to continue their long friendship and roles as team mates into college.
We are so proud of our future Nighthawk. Jordan Doggett is indeed Elite!
February 1, 2015
Lexi and her skills on the field, made an impression on Head coach Mike Davenport in a way that touched her and made her feel like she had found the right fit! We are proud of Lexi for her professional and mature handling of what oftentimes is a stress-filled event when changes such as this occur, particularly with "early verbals" in softball. Lexi is looking forward to making an immediate impact on her future college team and she can't wait to become a Nighthawk.
Davenport has built a culture of championships at North Georgia winning eight conference regular season titles, seven conference tournament crowns and has recorded an overall record of 597-184 (.764) in his tenure. He has quickly established UNG as a powerhouse in NCAA Division II softball, taking North Georgia to three-consecutive Division II College World Series from 2009-2011. The Nighthawks were just one win away from a fourth NCAA DII CWS in 2014, ending their season in the Super Regional.
In the summer of 2014, Davenport served as an assistant coach at the sport's highest level as he completed a term on the staff of the USSSA Florida Pride. There, he assisted the Pride to collect the Cowles Cup, which recognizes the National Pro Fastpitch champions.
The fullcountsoftball story can be read here.
Georgia Elite players were recently recognized by FullCountSoftball.com as being top players in the nation! Making the list from Georgia Elite are:
Lexi Duncan, 2016 University of Kentucky commit made #95 on the list
Amanda Ablan, 2016 University of Georgia commit made #62 on the list
Georgia Elite is hosting its organizational tryouts on Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 9:00am at Earl O'Neal Sports Complex located at 2709 Old Covington Road, Conyers. Please arrive by 8:30 for registration.
After a stellar first year 16U season, Georgia Elite, coached by Australia Hoover and Fred Ablan is looking to add several motivated players to its roster for 2015, where the team will compete as a 2nd year 16U team. The 2014 season included the team being named TCS/USA National Champions and runners up at ASA State! The team also participated in several high profile showcase tournaments including Scenic City, Fireworks, and PGF Nationals. This stable roster of players includes those with college commitments to Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Central Florida, Auburn, Illinois and Kennesaw State. Open positions include outfield, middle infield, catcher and pitcher. Speed and power at the plate are skills highly desired. Goals for next season include playing a competitive schedule to include Gold Cups, ASA, PGF and Triple Crown tournaments to name a few.
The organization is also looking to field two 14U teams next season as well! All positions are open for these 1st and 2nd year 14U teams. The coaches selected to head these teams are former Division I softball players who are excited about developing players. If you are dedicated to hard work, team oriented and looking to join a competitive program with a proven track record of producing high quality athletes able to excel at the collegiate level, we’d love to see you at tryouts.
Please send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Organization Director Leonard Moody at 770-815-4910.
Here's a nice write up featuring Jaimie Hoover, 2016 C/3B
In conjunction with our 18 Gold team, Georgia Elite-Moody is hosting a Gold Cup Tournament March 22-23, 2014 at Southside Park. Open to 18 Gold teams and select 18A and 16A teams. If interested, and for more information complete the online registration form here.
Kathryn Carter, 2016 Pitcher/1B has verbally committed to play softball at the University of Illinois in the Big 10 Conference. Kat was first seen by Coaches Sullivan and DiBiase at PGF Nationals in Huntington Beach, CA last summer. Kat's presence in the circle, as well as her speed and control caused her to get the attention of this top program.
Kathryn will certainly make a huge impact on the Fighting Illini's program when she arrives on campus in the next couple of years. Her work ethic, infectious smile, and strength will take her very far on and off the softball field. The Georgia Elite family is very proud of Kat for this tremendous accomplishment.