Hello Koa Families! After a bit of a blogging hiatus with summer vacations, the craziness of back to school. Find Your Inner Koa is back!!!
Today’s blog entry is a response to an article the Washington Post published back in May entitled “Stealing home: How travel teams are eroding community baseball”. A few parents asked for my feedback, and I’ve taken the opportunity to share my response with the entire Koa Community. I appreciated reading “Stealing Home” and I believe there are tons of relevant points in the opinion piece. With all the issues with travel ball, why hasn’t someone come up with a positive, professional solution to “daddy ball?”
I think I have some excellent news: there’s one baseball organization out there doing things the right way.
Koa was initially founded to provide the best travel baseball experience in the D.C. metro area. We have iterated many times over, and travel baseball is still the core of our baseball business. Our baseball program has three-pronged approach (recreational, mid-level, and travel ball) to create enthusiasm in young athletes and ignite their interest in the game. As the athletes progress through our ranks, we have a distinct focus every stage of the way:
9/10u– Learn the game in a positive environment
11/12u– Become hooked on baseball
13/14u– Make their HS team
15u– Become a Varsity starter
16u-17u– Give each player the opportunity to play college baseball
18u-22u- Become a successful college player
Travel ball often gets a bad reputation, however there are many benefits if executed correctly. As a former 2001 All Met 1st Team Player (and successful college player), I have used my experience with all levels of travel baseball to positively impact our community. Here’s a snapshot of the issue at hand:
Problem- Many parent coaches have tunnel vision and tend to live vicariously through their sons.
Koa’s Solution- We employ ONLY paid coaches with no children on the team to run each squad.
Problem- Parents can control the coaches.
Solution- We have paid, dedicated managers in charge of our travel program who has played baseball at a high level. Our managers continuously research the best leagues are run, industry trends, practice plans, recruit coaches, etc. Our travel coaches work for the program director, NOT for the parents.
Problem- High pitch counts and pitcher overuse.
Solution- We work to ensure our pitchers typically throw between 50 and 80 pitches depending on age (our travel program ranges from 9-22 years old).
Problem- Burnout, and playing too much.
Solution- Our 9u-14u program practices twice per week, playing doubleheaders on the weekend. We give our travel players 2 1/2 or 5 months off each year (summer ball is optional at Koa), and winter workouts are only 7 weeks. Our program intensifies from 15-22 (the aforementioned article talks most about the critical 12u age before getting on the big diamond).
The issues raised by David Mendell in the “Stealing Home” article are incredibly important and insightful. It is for those reasons that we have worked tirelessly at Koa to develop and continuously improve our approach to best serve our kids. We believe firmly in the development of our youth players in a safe, fun and nurturing environment without the pressure of overbearing parents and a too-serious atmosphere at a young age. It’s at the very core of what we do.