Where did my 14U team go? As players age up to 14U a “Natural Attrition Rate” usually happens. Some players lose interest and decide not play, some player’s friends decide not to play so they decide to move on, some players move to a different school and want to play on a club with their friends that may be linked with their high school team, some players want to focus on a primary sport (ie. basketball, swimming, volleyball, etc.), some players want a more challenging environment...whatever your daughter's decision might be for moving on or continuing to play, we want to provide you with information to help you decide what is the best option for your daughter and your family. Club ball might be an option. Similar to basketball as a comparison. After 8th grade travel is done, a lot of kids go to AAU. It’s very similar.
For the greater 12U audience that doesn't know it, up to this point in time and the foreseeable future this is how it's been done, just a fact of life. It does not mean that you cannot have great experiences playing for an ongoing association team, but it's a very atypical route to keep city association teams together at higher levels. As a point of reference there may be at most 2 or 3 association teams in the larger tournaments. At 16U, it’s nonexistent.
Many former EGFA Players and current EHS Players play for club teams. Some of the teams they are currently rostered for include: MN Vortex, MN A’s, MN Speed, MN Force, MN Bombers, Clutch Hitters, and MN Waves.
Is Club ball right for my daughter?
In general, Club level teams are geographically based. Commitment is all year round with 3-4 tournaments played in the fall, 2 tournaments played in the winter (dome ball), and 5-6 tournaments played in the summer. There may be more or less depending on the commitment level. There is a dark period from February through May where there is no club activity due to High School league rules. Some club teams encourage you to play other sports while others expect softball to be your life. During the season when you’re not playing tournaments you are practicing and during the off-season you are training up to 3 times a week. Some more elite clubs require more travel to out of state national tournaments and showcases. Most club teams play in the Top Tier organization that sponsors tournaments and showcases. As a point of reference “80% of all players that were recruited in Minnesota to play college ball played in Top Tier.” This is not a league. Games are organized by individual clubs. Pricing varies amongst clubs from $1,100 to $4,400 (specific teams and fees are listed below and travel costs are not included).
Some clubs may have a lower level team which may have an affiliation with the Big West League. They may play in Big West A or MN Softball Gold League. Even some of the higher level teams will play in Gold League for organized games and Gold State in order to play in USA Nationals in Sioux Falls, SD.
Club Tryouts this year are in late August for the following year. The 2020 club tryouts are August 17th-19th at multiple locations depending on the team you would like to tryout for. There is a pre-registration that you will need to complete. Some clubs have non-refundable tryout fees ($0 - $50+). After tryouts if they offer a spot for your daughter you usually have 24 hours to accept their invitation.
With tryouts on some clubs there are limited spots especially for 2nd year teams. At 2nd year 14's (if you haven’t already joined a club team) the better programs are generally looking for 1 or 2 athletes, with 50 to 100 girls trying out for that spot. It can be very important to get on the team your daughter wants to play for as a 1st year 14. Some players MAY be offered spots prior to tryouts and WILL NOT have to try-out. Some players outside of a club may be invited to tryout. While some current club players may be asked to go through the tryout process to properly evaluate where that player would be best suited to play.
Before having your daughter tryout for a club make sure you do your research and ask questions:
What questions should I ask myself? What level of play do I want to compete at? High School Varsity? Or do I want to play in college? DI, DII, DIII? What is my budget? How much time can my daughter commit to? How much travel can my daughter commit to? Are these my goals or my daughter’s goals?
What questions should I ask of a club team? What are your fees and what does that include (uniforms, dome ball, training, paid coaches, tournament fees, etc.)? Do you have payment plans? Do you offer scholarships? What if my daughter decides not to play after joining the team? What is your refund policy? How often is training? At what locations is training held? How many tournaments are you playing this year? How many out of state tournaments are you playing this year? What type of commitment is this for my daughter? Can my daughter play other sports? How many open spots are there and at what positions? What is your team size? How many players are near me that I can have my daughter carpool with? How long have you been an organization? What is your coaches’ background? What is your culture/philosophy? How many players go on to play college? At what levels? Do you have a support system to navigate the college recruiting? What are academics going to look like (you’re going to be a Pro in something else other than softball)?
Here is a list of Club Team Links (in no specific order) to find out more information. Not all club teams are posted here and we are not endorsing one over another. These are posted as a resource for you to do your own research.
Geographic: West/Tonka/Chanhassen/Wayzata/Orono/Prior Lake
Midwest Speed (website: https://midwestspeedfastpitch.leagueapps.com)
Minnesota Bombers (website: https://www.minnesotabombers.com)
MN Ice (website: https://www.lakevillefastpitch.org/ice)
MN Whirl (website: http://www.tonkasoftball.org/Page.asp?n=123938&org=TONKASOFTBALL.ORG)
Cost: $1,100 to $1,500
Geographic: Minnetonka based
Arctic Blast (website: http://www.epfastpitch.com/Page.asp?n=53391&org=EPFASTPITCH.COM)
Cost: $1,100 to $1,500
Geographic: Eden Prairie based
TC Blitz (website: https://www.tcblitz.com)
Geographic: Twin Cities based/Lakeville/Edina
MN Waves (website: https://www.mnwavesfastpitch.com)
Geographic: South/Savage/Prior Lake
MN Stars (website: https://www.eaganfastpitch.org/page/show/204492-mn-stars-club-team-info)
Cost: $1,100 to $1,500
Geographic: Eagan based
MN Starters (website: https://www.starterssoftball.com)
Cost: $1,100 to $1,500
Geographic: Shakopee based
Midwest Power (website: http://midwest-power.com)
MN Xtreme (website: http://mnxtremefastpitch.com)
MN Magic (website: https://magicsoftball.org)
MN Force (website: https://www.minnesotafastpitchacademy.com/page/show/842618-minnesota-force)
Clutch Hitters (website: https://www.clutch-hitters.com)
Finally, if club ball isn’t in the plans there are still Association based teams which are also part of the Big West League. Levels of play are Gold, A, B, and C. They can play in out of state tournaments, nationals, and Big West State Tournament. These teams are still tied to the association and are a mix of competition with some players brand new to fastpitch. As players move to club teams there may be holes to fill in positions (ie. pitcher/catcher) and you would need to recruit other players who are just looking for an association to play for. If Edina didn’t have enough players to field a team you would receive a waiver to play for another community based association.
Commitment: By season.
Cost: $350-450 Spring/Summer. Fall $100-$150.