It’s our favorite time of the fastpitch season here at TC headquarters in Fort Collins, CO. We are just days away from 900-plus teams and 16,000 players invading Colorado for the 49th annual Fireworks and the 16th annual Triple Crown Sparkler and Sparkler Juniors tournaments. Our Colorado 4th of July premier events offer a platform for the best athletes around the country to go head to head with other elite clubs and showcase their skills in the presence of more than 600 college coaches.
Before the competition begins, there are numerous opportunities for players to display their talents in front of college coaches, starting with the highly anticipated TC College Camp Sunday on June 24th. This year’s slate features 15 separate camps, including 38 different schools from top-level Division I programs through multiple Division III institutions. A day later, event directors have provided a separate workout tailored to unsigned seniors and players interested in the Junior College level. For the younger athletes, the 14u Elite Camp will take place on Monday, July 25th at The Ballpark at Erie. This sold-out event features eight highly notable Division I universities.
The early part of the week will also include Organization Workouts, On Deck Camp, All-Star Games, All-Academic Games, Unsigned Senior Combine and the National Speed Combine. The goal is for players is to refine skills and develop a deeper understanding of the game, while having the opportunity to work with coaches from a particular school or group of schools.
The All-Star Games are invite-only and feature some of the best athletes in the country. They begin on Monday, June 25th and run through Wednesday at Christopher Sports Complex. The All-Academic games feature girls who meet an incredible standard in the classroom and are equally impressive on the diamond. Schools looking to fill roster spots with those who check both boxes will keep a keen eye on these games.
What’s 4th of July week without a big celebration? The Sparkler Juniors opening ceremony will take place on Monday in Loveland and Sparkler/Fireworks will each host a Festival Night (the first on June 27th at Christopher Complex in Westminster, the next June 28th at Aurora Sports Park). One can expect a slew of vendors, pin trading, Pro/Olympic player signings, 4 the Heroes Flag Ceremony and the highly anticipated TC Idol Singing Competition where we’ll witness the intriguing entertainment talents of several softball players.
Teams will hit the diamond on Monday for two match-up games that are essentially warm-up games and don’t count toward bracket record. Later, teams will face off in two box bracket games that will seed them into elimination brackets. These four total games will be played throughout Monday-Thursday with one of those days as an "off" day so that travel teams can rest and explore Colorado. Double elimination starts Friday, and teams will battle it out over the weekend determined to reach Championship Sunday.
Throughout the week, Triple Crown Sports and ESPN3 have partnered to broadcast four games during the exciting week of fastpitch. Wednesday, June 27 at Christopher Fields during the Sparkler Festival Night, ESPN3 will bring audiences across the nation a showdown between two powerhouse 18u programs. Directly after, the “Best of the Best” game featuring the tournament All-Americans also receives ESPN3 treatment at 9:30 p.m. ET.
When the Fireworks Festival Night kicks off on Thursday, June 28th at the Aurora Sports Park, both the 14u and 16u Power Pool championship games will go live on ESPN3. The 14u Championship is slated for 7 p.m. ET, while the 16u Championship is set to go at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Below is the official TV schedule of the ESPN3 games:
Power Pool Championship (18u)
Westminster, CO | June 27 | 6:30 p.m. ET
Best of the Best All-American Game
Westminster, CO | June 27 | 9:30 p.m. ET
Futures Championship (14u)
Aurora, CO | June 28 | 7:00 p.m. ET
Power Pool Championship (16u)
Aurora, CO | June 28 | 9:30 p.m. ET
The countdown is on and the TCS fastpitch staff cannot wait to see you all in Colorado for the most spectacular week of the summer!
Parents, players and coaches:
In all the excitement and activity surrounding the Triple Crown 4th of July tournament, you will probably step back at least once and reflect on your good fortune to be involved with this great game.
Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to share that feeling with scores of other athletes who face barriers every day when it comes to taking the field?
Triple Crown Sports and Pitch In For Softball have partnered this summer to encourage teams coming to Colorado for the June 24-July 1 Sparkler/Fireworks/Sparkler Juniors to gather new and gently used gear and pack a bag for donation at the event. Putting this equipment in the hands of athletes who lack the options we all take for granted is a powerful act – you can step in and help when everything from natural disasters to budget cuts put young athletes on the sidelines.
WHAT TO BRING: PIFS will accept all types of equipment and uniform pants. Critical needs are bats, balls, catcher’s gear, RH and LH gloves 11” or larger – pack it all in an equipment bag.
WHERE TO BRING IT: We have dedicated collection sites (from 4-10 p.m.) during the two festival nights at Colorado 4th of July – Wednesday, June 27 at the Christopher Complex in Westminster, and Thursday, June 28 at the Aurora Sports Park.
Are you playing at Sparkler Juniors? Your games typically take place outside of Denver, but we encourage you to fill a bag and make your way to one of the festival nights to join in the effort. Contact a TCS site director if your team needs help getting a bag delivered.
HARD TO FIND EXTRA GEAR? We will have the drop-off sites staffed to also accept your tax-deductible donations via cash or check.
We will take a picture of your team dropping off its gear in front of the PIFS banner and post it through our social media platforms. Let’s build a mountain of bags at the foot of the Rockies!
Please contact Bri Kuhn for more information: (267) 263-4069 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The singular intensity that you feel stepping into the batter’s box, the satisfaction of throwing the runner out at home, hitting the corner of plate with the perfect pitch, or the unbreakable bond with your teammates – hundreds of thousands of girls live and breathe for those moments yet might not have the opportunity to play due to economic barriers.
Starting in 2018, however, the roots of youth fastpitch have been fortified through Pitch In For Softball (www.pifs.org), a charitable outreach that puts both new and gently used softball gear into the hands of young athletes who don’t have the economic standing to secure equipment on their own. Born from the Pitch In For Baseball model that started in 2005, PIFS exists to increase access to the game for girls around the world, helping teams rebound from natural disasters and removing barriers to play.
Triple Crown Sports is a proud and enthusiastic partner of PIFS, and teams coming to the nationally renowned Colorado 4th of July event this summer are invited to help. Before coming to Colorado, please consider grab a large bag and asking each of your players to donate at least one piece of equipment (balls, bats, catcher’s gear, gloves 11” or larger).
Triple Crown will have dedicated drop-off areas for you to donate those equipment bags. The gear collected will help over-extended school districts that struggle to find dollars to fund youth sports – in fact, PIFS and Wilson Sporting Goods joined forces to reinvigorate 20 high school softball programs in Chicago that led directly to opportunities for 400 young women.
With about 900 teams heading to Colorado for the tournament, we feel this is a perfect chance for our customers to jump in with a donation and make a difference for the future of the sport. We will announce drop-off plans next week; for now, scoop up some softball equipment for a great cause, Pitch In For Softball!
For more information, look below or contact Brianna Kuhn: email@example.com or (267) 263-4069.
Lou Bishop didn’t build a sports car, or create a soft drink, or cobble together some baffling new technology that speeds people through the 21st century.
But he could probably farm his skills out to any Fortune 500 company on the topics of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
As efficient as a Porsche, as reliable as Coke and as forward-looking as Google, Bishop’s run as director and coach of the TC (Tri-Cities) Tremors club and his Blue Chip showcase tournaments has carved his name onto the national scene in youth softball. Along the way, dozens of athletes have benefited with opportunities to play at the collegiate level.
Based out of Binghamton, NY., Bishop has carefully monitored how the Tremors go about their business as club softball evolved in the past few decades. Parents and athletes make a profound investment of time and money to participate in youth sports these days, and Bishop strives to offer a real return on the gesture.
“The idea is to play the highest caliber of softball you can, and have fun doing it. Stress isn’t good for anyone,” said Bishop, who started coaching almost 25 years ago and got in the fray at first to coach his younger sister, Mary. “If you can perform in a stressful situation by staying calm and cool, that’s having fun. There’s a time to have fun, there’s a time to be serious, and there’s a time to kick some (butt).
“You’ve got to find a medium through all that stuff to make it work, and I think we’ve done that. School is more important than softball, because if you don’t have the grades you aren’t going anywhere — I refuse to take them from their studies. We’ve done well at the larger events, probably better than other people expected.”
The Tremors were just a one-team venture for many years, but girls would come from hours away to play for Bishop, who would fold a couple of national-scale championship events into the schedule while sharpening his contacts with the collegiate scene. Today, the Tremors are casting a larger shadow with three 18u teams, two 16’s, two 14’s and a 12u.
And with his regional accomplishments widely known and appreciated, Bishop is making a leap of faith and starting two “franchise” 16u teams – one on Long Island, and one in Buffalo. Both squads are about four hours away from home base, which proves Bishop knows how to grow a brand.
“The only reason I did that was because some people approached me; I had relationships with these people through the tournaments and clinics I run,” he said. “They liked how we did things, and they wanted to bring our way to their organization. It’s a one-year shot to see if it works.
“Sometimes you have to change with the times. If it will help your program, and people will think you are better for it, you’ve got to try.”
When Tim Lee was looking for a more thoughtful softball experience for his daughter, he knew that the Tremors were probably a good fit. Eventually, Lee joined the growing staff with the club and coached the 12’s and 14’s – today, he’s an assistant with the 18’s.
Lee has seen ex-players circle back to work with the Tremors program, and he’s not the least bit surprised Bishop’s vision of how club softball should look is catching on elsewhere.
“We understand it should be about the kids, and not about coaches yelling and screaming. Right now, kids and parents are looking for that support,” Lee said. “How to help girls become young women, and not just in softball but in the world itself. Building confidence and providing support is a big deal, where maybe way back when, people were looking for tougher, harder (toned) coaches.
“We are growing for the same reasons I was drawn to the Tremors, and why other coaches were. We give that support. Lou ends up talking to many people, and he has a good rapport with them. We’re getting calls about expanding, and I guess anytime you get your name out there on a positive note, it’s a good thing, even if there’s some risk involved.”
One thing people are still talking about is the time Bishop put up ads on a billboard and two bus stops right near the Aurora Sports Park in Colorado, one of the showpiece sites of Triple Crown’s Fireworks/Sparkler tournament over the July 4th holiday. At the time, Triple Crown was rolling out its national rankings, and Bishop knew his team wasn’t well-known enough to likely garner a lot of votes.
So, the billboard and bus stop ads encouraged team to “Vote Tremors” while on the other side of the ad, his Blue Chip showcase events were promoted. It was quintessential Bishop — a bit of East Coast swagger mixed with humor. All of this was seen by thousands of people, streaming in and out of the field complex as the tournament played out.
“We go to big events, but we didn’t have the national recognition a lot of teams had in the top tier of that poll. Probably a lot of teams that voted wouldn’t know much about us,” Bishop said. “I was joking with a coach and I just said, ‘I’m getting a billboard.’ He said, ‘No, you’re not’ and I said, ‘Well, sure I am.’ I don’t remember the price, but I was flabbergasted at how cheap it was.
“It all started as kind of a joke, but I needed votes! I wanted to build that Blue Chip event, and where better to do it than where there’s a million teams moving around, and the best teams. I’m sure people said I was an idiot, and had other interesting things to say. I died laughing when I saw it. We played the Texas Firecrackers, and I’d never met (the coach) before. At the home plate meeting, she looks at me and says, ‘You’re the guys with the billboard.’”
When it’s time to be serious, however, the Tremors know how to keep perspective. Through Blue Chip tournaments, the Stop DWI Tournament of Champions has for 13 years drawn top-level competition and actively spread the word to young athletes about the costs of making bad decisions. More than 70 teams participate, and over 80 colleges use it as a recruiting platform.
“It’s trying to bring a message to the girls outside of softball, some real-life meaning through the game. Depending on schedules, we’ll get state troopers to come and talk before the first games,” said Bishop, who worked with a Stop DWI Christmas basketball tournament provider to brand his fastpitch event with that title. “There’s been two years out here with drastic floods that demolished maybe a quarter of the community; we let everyone know what happened, and it became a goodwill tournament at that point. We collected food and clothing from the teams that came.
“You have to remember where you came from. Yeah, we all want to win and to compete, but at the end of the day it’s just a game. You go home to your family, you talk to friends … real life is more important.
Maddie Reese is a former player who is wrapping up a terrific season at a D-I school, and has very fond memories of her days with the Tremors. She is a multi-position asset for the squad at Iowa State, where she will secure a degree in kinesiology and take those skills to an internship this summer and likely a hitch at a graduate school out west.
She would car pool with several other players and travel two-plus hours each way to play for the Tremors.
“Lou was great talking to coaches, and he put me in a great spot to be recruited. Any school I was interested in, he made sure I got a good look,” she said. “I came in as an infielder, but talking to Lou more I realized to make myself more desirable, I should learn some other positions. I got the opportunity to play outfield, and that’s where I got my first start.
“Lou’s philosophy is that every player is different and has their own set of needs. He knew players needed to be working on those things outside of practice, and he thought players needed to take charge of their own development. All the Tremors keep in touch; we’ll cross paths and share memories. Lou created an atmosphere where people saw the tradition and wanted to be a part of it.”
Bishop’s future on the diamond will also involve the raising of his young son; he said he’ll find a way to keep his hand in the softball side.
“Once my son is able to play, I’ll still be involved with the Tremors someway, somehow,” he said, laughing. “I’ll be their George Steinbrenner figure, maybe.”
With two successful years in the rearview mirror and nothing but excitement about the road ahead, Triple Crown Sports and YouTube sensation Domingo Ayala have announced their partnership will continue with the release of the 2018 TCS Tour schedule.
Ayala’s “Theory of Beisbol” series and other videos on YouTube have racked up more than 28 million views. He has performed in a variety of settings, from indoor sports facilities, sports complexes, youth baseball fundraisers, corporate events and even in MLB locker rooms. Ayala’s unconventional journey to excellence as a profoundly skilled athlete provides a great deal of comedic material that sports fans continue to embrace; until that day he signs an MLB contract that properly rewards a player of his profound skill set, Triple Crown Sports is thrilled to have him on location.
“The players, coaches and families who play with us simply get a light in their eyes when Domingo Ayala shows up at the ballpark,” said Joe Santilli, director of baseball for Triple Crown Sports. “We are all about competition and skill-building with TCS baseball and softball, but it’s important to remember how much a good laugh makes it easier to stay in love with the game.”
Triple Crown Sports, which produces a variety of competitive, premier destination tournaments drawing thousands of athletes and their families, welcomes Domingo Ayala to the following events:
Arizona Spring Championships, Session 2 – March 17 (Phoenix, AZ)
Bend Elks Memorial Day Tournament – May 27-28 (Bend, OR)
Omaha SlumpBuster, Session 1 – June 14-15 (Omaha, NE)
Omaha SlumpBuster, Session 3 – June 23-24 (Omaha, NE)
Colorado Sparkler/Fireworks Fastpitch – June 27-28 (Denver, CO)
TC Baseball World Series – July 16 (Park City, UT)
U.S. Club Nationals – July 24 (Atlanta, GA)
TC Baseball World Series – July 31 (Steamboat Springs, CO)
Details on Domingo Ayala’s appearances will appear on the Triple Crown website (www.triplecrownsports.com) and TCS social media outlets; Ayala will also share details on his website (www.domingobeisbol.com) and Twitter feed (@DomingoBeisbol)
About Domingo Ayala:
Domingo Ayala was born and raised in Puerto Plata, DR sometime between 1978 and 1988 (records have not been verified). At a young age, with the influence of his cousin and longtime baseball coach, Vladimir Ayala, Domingo began to excel at the game of baseball. In the Dominican Republic, Domingo has been a 7-time Infielder of the Year and 6-time Outfielder of the Year award winner (two years overlapping when he played both SS and LF in order to hit twice in the lineup).