Missing in Today’s Fastpitch Softball World – A National, Credible and Comprehensive Testing Program
The founder of F2F is Rich McGuinness from New Jersey, who developed the biggest football youth and prep football platform that featured the U.S. Army Bowl on NBC for the nation’s top seniors, the U.S. Army National Combine that tested the nation’s top 500 underclassmen and Football University that trained 8,000 top football athletes across the country. One of his colleagues, Bob Geoghan, created the Aflac All-American Baseball Game for top boys baseball players and McDonald’s All-American Basketball Game for top girls and boys basketball athletes. They both sold their interests to reimagine the world of athlete development.
Rich was blessed by having two young girls who wanted to play travel softball. They joined their nearby travel team run by long time softball coach Joe Van, current Director of Softball for F2F, who also had two girls playing in the program. Both men were inspired by how softball embraced every athlete – the tall, the small, the fast and the not so fast. They were also inspired by the sport’s premise - that excellence in softball could be earned by any athlete with hard work and technical mastery (unlike many other sports where speed and size could play a larger role in success).
Rich and Joe observed that fastpitch athletes had the same college softball ambition as baseball players. They trained just as intensely as boys and displayed the same unwavering commitment to their softball goals. They also saw parents providing the same level of support for travel and softball with the goal of providing their daughters with the best softball experience available.
Like many other sports, Rich expected to see a national softball infrastructure that tested fastpitch athletes and helped them and their parents understand their current softball ability compared to the college standard. After all, national testing has been integral to every major sport for decades in better understanding the elite athlete, especially for those who sought a college scholarship or aspired to play in college.
He was surprised to find how little there was in the way of national testing for these young female athletes targeted by college softball coaches, especially given the current emphasis on recruiting girls as early as 12 years old. The overall situation was not helped by the economic imbalance caused by national sponsors and limited college softball recruiting budgets.
A Three Day Curriculum Inspired by College Softball Coaches
The F2F team spent two years connecting with college softball coaches from all levels of softball including DI national championship coaches, Hall of Fame and former college softball coaches, and top sports trainers and sports scientists who currently train elite softball athletes.
They were not surprised to learn that college coaches were seeking a national testing platform conducted by an unbiased 3rd party that could reliably provide the following:
1. Live evaluations of 5,000 - 7,500 top athletes ages 10U – 16U that include nationally ranked softball athletes from club teams and top athletes from non-club teams (who may also play other sports) from every part of the country (not just a few);
2. In-depth comprehensive testing that measure physical ability and reaction, skill ability by position, hitting ability, pitching ability, softball IQ and competitiveness.
3. A grade per athlete that measures current ability and projected ability with evaluations from former college softball coaches who understand the DI standard.
College softball coaches, with email inboxes flooded by countless emails from potential student athletes, told a compelling story. They wanted a better method to narrow down the recruiting process to focus on the few hundred athletes that were eligible for their program based on ability, geography and academics. They were looking for a comprehensive evaluation or “overall grade” per athlete based on deeper data.
For college coaches, attending top tournaments and games had always been an effective way to evaluate fastpitch athletes, but tournament play combined with in-depth individual testing provided a better method to understand each athlete’s softball ability.