College coaches give big thumbs up to the 2014 tournament
Despite Mother Nature’s occasional interference, Northwest softball coaches liked the 2014 Fastpitch Northwest College Exposure Tournament. A few went as far as to say it was the “best” one yet.
“It was the best $207 I’ve spent,” said Al Mendiola, head coach at College of Idaho. “I wasn’t going to be able to attend because of family plans in San Diego, but I sure am glad I changed my mind and convinced my wife to let me fly in.”
Another coach said “there’s nothing that compares to it in the Northwest. The tournament was outstanding. I thought last year was good, but despite the weather this was better.”
Fastpitch Northwest director Ken Olson is very “close” to calling it the “best all-around event to date.” The weather was the one negative as rain delayed Wednesday’s games by six hours, thus changing start times Wednesday and Thursday.
“The grounds crew did a great job in preparing the fields,” said Olson. “And we were again able to showcase the caliber of softball the northwest has to offer. The feedback we’ve been getting has been good.”
According to the coaches, canceling would have been very unfortunate for everyone involved.
“I got to see several players I wouldn’t have known about at all and now they are at the top of my recruiting list,” said Mendiola, who guided COI to a fifth place National NAIA finish in 2014. ”I will be back.”
“I love this event,” said Chuck Bodeen, head coach at Yakima Valley College. “It’s a more compact event than some of the large exposure events and this makes it much easier for us to see the players ... everything is at one location and not spread out all over the place. It’s a great atmosphere for players and coaches. It’s a great place to recruit.”
Bodeen’s comments were shared by many other of the 41 coaches in attendance during the July 22-24 event.
Big Bend coach Ray Moffitt said “it was clearly the best event to date. Other than the weather, what was there not to like. The teams were well matched and there were certainly a lot of legitimate prospects available for recruiting. I ran out of BBCC brochures to hand out. My recruit weekend will be overflowing.”
Moffitt was one of a half-dozen coaches who came in on Monday (July 21) to see the make-up Prospect Evaluation Camp in which 28 players participated.
“Glad I did,” he said. “I was able to get an early start and add some names to my recruiting list.”
Olson noted that the format was changed a bit this year with practice times and pre-game infield/outfield taking the place of large group player workouts and repeat testing.
“There’s still a lot to do, and had it not been for the wet weather, no doubt this would clearly have been the best we’ve put on,” said Olson. “We did a few things differently and they were well received by the coaches.”
The coaches said they were pleased with games being played over three days rather than two, thus giving them more options to see players and open up travel and lodging options for them.
“I liked the infield/outfield warmup format,” said Mendiola. “I didn’t have to sit and wait two hours to go through a long line of players to see some field or hit. I just found where players I wanted to see were playing and got there early.”
Another change was a two-hour window for private workouts as requested by coaches.
“We have some tweaking to do on that one,” said assistant director Tom Mauldin. “The weather delays were problematic, but we got some good pro and con feedback.”
“I liked the extra workout because the weather interfered with my schedule, so I got a close look at some kids I might not have seen,” said Shelley Pflugrath, head coach at Wenatchee Valley CC. “I also got to interact with them and will be following up with several.”
Pflugrath added that Fastpitch NW’s College Exposure event is one of two tournaments she attends for recruiting purposes.
Corban University coach Nathan Ohta said he thought the event was great and appreciated the “extra workouts during the rain delays. It gave us a much closer look at some players that we might not have gotten otherwise.”
Still to do are numerous follow ups with college coaches and sitting down with our team to review the 2014 PECs and tournament, said Olson.
“We did a lot of good things, but we want to get better,” said Olson. “We’re driven by what the college coaches tell us they want and are always eager for their feedback.”
For now, Olson said he was going to sneak off with his wife Karen and a couple of grandkids to camp along the Columbia. Then it’s back to work with a goal of making the 2015 event better than 2014.
“We’ve come along away since that first event five years ago, but there’s still work to be done,” said Olson. “Just like the players, our goal is to get better every year.”
Fastpitch Northwest’s 2014 Scholarship Deadline Nears
Since Fastpitch Northwest began its scholarship program in 2011, 19 players have been recipients of $500 to $1,000 each in scholarships. All totaled, the Fastpitch NW family has donated more than $10,000.
"When I started the scholarship program in 2011, my hope was to give back in a financial way to players who have worked so hard to achieve their dream of going to college and playing softball," said Ken Olson, director for Fastpitch Northwest.
"I am just so excited to let everyone know that I am currently compiling the list of this year's 2014 senior athletes who participated in our tournament this past July,” reminded Olson. “They will be hearing from us soon.”
Olson noted that those players should be receiving their invitation to apply for one of the scholarships no later than Sept. 15. He noted that if 2015 graduates have not received information about the scholarship by mid-September, they should contact Fastpitch Northwest ... read more»