Written from the perspective of 2020, this is a vision for how the Marin Tremors program develops over the coming years.
Vision for the Tremors Program - Tremors 2020
By 2020, the Marin Tremors Summer Program had established itself as the leading post-rec season softball program in the Bay Area. The program offered softball players the opportunity to play on competitive travel ball teams in each age group, or participate in competitive “club-level” summer ball programs, including inter-Marin games and practices. The program runs softball camps, pitching and hitting clinics, and special guest clinics.
The changes that led to the success of the program started in 2017, when the focus shifted to development of a program that served both competitive players looking to compete in tournaments around Northern California; and players that wanted to continue developing skills and playing softball after the MGS Spring Rec Season. The types of players the new program attracted included:
In 2017, the program introduced several key components that have led to the success of Tremors today.
Why Tremors, Why Softball
We believe that girls who participate in team sports benefit tremendously is so many ways. Playing sport helps build self confidence, and healthy active habits. Being part of a team develops leadership, and camaraderie skills that our players take with them forever. They learn to deal with highs, and lows. Team sports also play a very important role in social behavior. Teams are a place where individual respect is earned based on commitment, skills, attitude, and sportsmanship. Not who has the latest iPhone, or pair of jeans. A true team always looks after one another.
And while there are many team sports to choose from, softball is unique in that it's a team sport that allows players to contribute independently, and together. Think the process of pitching, or hitting, as individual contributions, while defense, base running, and how players get involved in the dug out all require a very strong team culture to be successful.
Changes that made the Difference
In 2017, MGS repositioned Tremors as a full summer and fall program that included both competitive travel ball teams, and a club-level ball team program, inclusive of any player that wanted to continue playing softball.
This was a change from the past, when Marin Tremors was solely a Travel Ball program, and if a player didn’t make the Travel Ball team, their only option was to attend casual scrimmages. The summer ball program gave players the opportunity to continue playing competitive ball, with USA Softball Travel Ball rules, Standings, Championships, Officiated games, and so on. It was the equivalent of an entire Rec Season played over the summer, and culminated in the Marin Summer Slam in late July as the season championship.
Clear Message about the Goals and Objectives of Tremors
From the outset of this program in 2017, MGS has been clear about the guiding principles.
These guiding principles, agreed upon by the MGS BoD, were critical in several ways:
Programs Designed to Support Both Competitive and Developing Players
At the opening weekend of the Tremors Summer Season, all players participated in an assessment session. From this assessment session, players are selected on to one of the Club-level Ball Teams, or the Travel Ball team for their age group.
Club Level Program
Unlike previous years, when players that did not make the Travel Ball teams were offered less-formal scrimmages, the new Club Level Program was run like a full rec season. Each team, named Tremors North and Tremors South, competed against each other, and on occasion, against teams from other leagues. All teams participate in one tournament during the season.
Players that participated in the Summer Ball program accelerated their development of skills in the game, and many went on to participate in Travel Ball teams in future years.
Travel Ball Program
Players from each age group were selected to play on either a B level or C level Marin Tremors Travel Ball Team.
The Travel Ball teams are made up of players who could commit to a full season of practices and weekend-long tournaments around Northern California. If a player could not commit to the full summer season, then they played on a Club-Level Ball team. If a player on the Travel Ball team was unavailable one weekend, an invitation was given to one of the Club-leval Ball players to play with the Travel Ball team.
As the individual players’ skills developed, many went on to join Freshman, JV and Varsity teams in high school.
Providing both Travel Ball and Club Level softball programs in Marin ensured any player that wanted to play softball in the summer could do so. However, given the history of what the Tremors program had been, it was critical to the success of this program to reposition the entire Tremors Program.
It was no longer a program where players tried out for travel ball, and if they didn’t make it, they could do casual scrimmages, or quit for the season.
Every player attending the assessments was trying out for a position on a team, and every player will play the Tremors season, either on a Travel Ball Team, or a Club-level Ball Team.
The Club-level Ball teams played competitive travel ball rules, against each other, had their own standings and playoffs, and all games were officiated by USA Softball umpires.
Teams in each age group practiced independently, but came together for one practice each weekend as a group. The weekend practices were conducted with stations, and all coaches were involved.
Coaching and Administration
Another key to the success of this program has been the recruitment and support provided to the coaches. Tremors actively recruited respected coaches for paid positions for the Travel Ball teams. Respected coaches from the recreation leagues, who’s daughters were playing on the Club-level teams were recruited to coach those teams.
The Travel Ball Coaches were hired to coach their specific age-group for at least two seasons. This allowed the two coaches to effectively hand off from 8U to 10U. Similar to an elementary school, where the teachers remain at the level, as student move through each year. This consistency helped parents understand what to expect, and allowed development of these coaches at their specific player age-level.
In addition, specialist coaches were brought in to help teach coaches pitching, hitting, and catching, and conduct clinics with the players.
Supporting these coaches were a Coaches Coach – a resource coaches could go to ask advice - a coaching clinic, an administrator for the program, assistant coaches, and team and logistics managers for each team. This reduced the burden of non-value added activities, and allowed the coaches to focus on the practice programs, tournament strategy, and player development.
Teams even formalized the coach/administration process by holding weekly conference calls to review what was working, what wasn’t, and plans for the upcoming week.
This level of organization improved the efficiency of the program, which had a positive impact on coaches, players, and parents. As a result, Tremors have developed a solid pool of paid coaches, and coaching and administrative volunteers to help run the program each year.
Crystal clear objectives, and a documented vision for Tremors attracted like minded players, parents, coaches, and administrators. This pool of volunteers, and support from Marin Girls Softball organization, ensure the success of Marin Tremors, as the leading summer softball program in Northern California.