North Shore Girls Softball League celebrates 25 years!
North Shore Girls Softball League is certainly a staple sport in the 92130 community and surrounding communities bringing girls of all ages together. The local, all-volunteer, non-profit organization provides an opportunity for girls ages 5 – 14 to learn the rules of softball and participate in a team sport. Come January, the participating girls will be out in full force, ready for a great season. The League is celebrating its 25 year anniversary this year and has so many exciting things in store for participants, families, volunteers, and the community at large. We had the opportunity to talk with President, John Wood about the League. His is enthusiastically eager for the upcoming season due to the dedication of families involved, the motivation of the girls, and the abundant support from the community. These elements, as John mentions, has made the League such a success over the past 2 ½ decades. Head on over to Carmel Valley Rec Center on February 8th for their Opening Day Celebration. North Shore athletes are sure to knock it out of the park!
92130: What is the history behind North Shore Girls Softball League?
The league was formed in 1989 as a spin out of Encinitas Bobby Sox. Carmel Valley and the surrounding areas were experiencing tremendous growth with the addition of new schools and homes. A group of parents led by Barbara Lee secured equipment and fields and established the league. Bringing together Carmel Valley, Torrey Hills, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe made it difficult to pick a name that reflected all of the communities. Someone suggested “North Shore” after seeing the name on a North Shore telephone directory. The rest, they say is history…
92130: One of your primary purposes is to enhance the self-image of each of your players. How do you fulfill that purpose?
In general, I think sports are an excellent way for kids to learn social skills, team skills and to compete and learn how to win and lose. Our coaches are reminded of this objective when they are assigned a team by the Board of Directors and it’s discussed when we meet within our Divisions. The more experienced coaches all have stories of the girls who came out to the first practice not knowing which hand to throw with and end up making game winning plays. Those are experiences that they will remember forever.
92130: Describe the basics of the typical spring softball season (ideally for insight from a new registrant)?
The spring season kicks off with our Opening Night on Feb. 8th. Games begin then that don’t count in the standings. In March, the 10U and 12U divisions will begin keeping track of wins and losses that will inform seedings in an end of season tournament. In the 6U and 8U divisions, the focus is more on development and therefore we don’t keep track of wins and losses. A typical week will have a practice and a game during the week and a game on Saturday. The 6U Division has one practice during the week and a game on Saturday.
92130: What sets North shore apart from other recreational girls softball leagues?
I’m biased, but I personally think we have the best families. We are very fortunate to have such great level of support from our families. Each team will typically have four coaches working with the girls on many aspects of the game. This level of support creates a dynamic practice environment where the girls are hustling between stations with not much time spent sitting around. We have also partnered with outside resources to develop our players and coaches. One example is our relationship with the UCLA Women’s softball team which is unique to North Shore and offers an opportunity to learn from a top program in the country that has won 12 NCAA titles.
92130: What should a player and her family expect as participants of North Shore?
Players and families can expect to learn softball in a fun, dynamic and safe environment that places an emphasis on learning individual and team based skills that will help them both on and off the softball field.
92130: What is your role as President and how did you get involved with the League?
I began coaching when my daughter started playing with North Shore at the 6U level. It is fun to think back to those times as the girls were learning the fundamentals and highly motivated by stickers. I have been coaching since then and have also been an All Star coach, Division Coordinator and last year I was league Vice President.
92130: What is your number one goal as President of the League?
My primary goal as President is to be the #1 cheerleader for North Shore. Whether it’s reaching out to schools or businesses across the community or celebrating the accomplishments of our 12U Gold All Star team that achieved 7th place at the National tournament in Oregon this past summer. A big part of our celebration this year is the trip we are planning to visit Oahu next summer.
92130: What is the most rewarding thing about being President of the League? The most challenging?
I’m only one month into my term, but so far the most rewarding thing has been interacting with the newly formed board of directors. The Board is made up of 33 coordinators of the various functions that keep the league moving along. Their enthusiasm for creating a great experience for the girls and families of North Shore is inspiring.
92130: If you could grant the League one wish, what would that be?
I have wished on many occasions that North Shore had a softball complex where our girls could play together on adjacent fields with concessions and a place to permanently hang our sponsor banners. Currently we work closely with the City and other sports leagues to secure space at Ocean Air or Carmel Valley Rec Centers or Solana Highlands, Solana Pacific or Torrey Hills School Parks.
92130: Since the organization is not for profit, how do you go about receiving necessary funds to keep the League running?
Funding to run the league comes primarily from player registration fees. Sponsorships and a fundraising raffles provide some additional funding to help with equipment purchases, field improvements and player and coach development. Many leagues host All Star tournaments that raise significant amounts of money and offset registration fees. We are in the process of looking at the feasibility of hosting a North Shore tournament in the future.
92130: Do you have any sponsors? If so, who are they and how do they assist in the League?
Sponsors are an integral part of our operations. All of our 2012 sponsors are featured on our website and we are in the process of securing sponsors for the 2013 season. Most of our Sponsors donate cash to the league in exchange for their company name appearing on the back of a uniform. The dollars donated help offset the cost of equipment upgrades, field improvements, and player and coach development. Some of our sponsors donate raffle items, food or services that help reduce the League’s out of pocket expenses. During these difficult economic times we really appreciate those businesses that are willing to give to the league. Dan Balsiger is our Sponsorship coordinator and he has been busy looking to retain our 2012 sponsors and also bring in new sponsors.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
92130: Tell us about the volunteers who allow for the League to be so successful.
Our league is entirely run by volunteers who are typically the parents of the players. Many volunteers are needed to ensure the season is successful. We have 33 Board Members and can expect to have over 100 coaches and team parents working daily with the girls to develop skills and ensure the best possible experience. I am very proud of our Jr. Umpires Program where we have kids who are 12 years old and up umpire the games in the 8U division. They get trained by our Umpire in Chief and get a chance to make money while the league minimizes costs while ensuring a safe and fair playing field. The families of North Shore are very giving of their time and our girls are the direct beneficiaries of their generosity.
92130: If someone were to want to become involved as a volunteer with the League, how would they go about doing so?
The best way to get involved is to send a message to email@example.com and indicate the area of interest. One can look on our website to see the listing of board positions and can use that listing to identify the functions of the league. As 2012 comes to a close we are busy securing sponsors and doing outreach to ensure we continue to grow the league and sign up as many girls as possible. Beginning in January, our focus will turn to the operations of the league and team selection, clinics and coordination of the game schedules. For someone who wants to help but doesn’t have a preference as to where to work, I am glad to make suggestions!
92130: Are there any new things about the coming season players and their families should be aware of (ie: updates to fields, Opening Day, fees, etc…)
Our full league calendar can be accessed at www.nsgsl.com but some key dates are the UCLA clinic on January 12, 2013. You must be a registered member of North Shore to participate. Opening Day is February 8th at the Carmel Valley Rec Center. The Paradise Tournament in Oahu is August 17, 2012 and an interest list is forming. Players do not need to qualify for All Stars to be eligible for the Paradise Tournament. Check out our website for more details.
92130: Have you had any of your players go on to play in college and/or on a professional level? If so, explain.
Many players have made their way from North Shore and through TPHS, CCA, Cathedral and other high schools on to college. As part of our 25th anniversary celebration we are in the process of reconnecting with North Shore alumni and will be posting their amazing stories on our website.
92130: How are teams formed so they are sure to be competitive with one another?
In the 6U and 8U division the emphasis is on development and therefore the teams are put together by the Division coordinator with an effort to honor “play-with” requests and group together kids from the same school. In the 8U Division, there is also an effort to make sure there is a balance of experience across the teams. The 10U and 12U division players participate in evaluations (January 13, 2013) and then managers will use their understanding of the girls skills to draft a competitive team.
92130: You host clinics to the girls provided by UCLA softball coaches. Please tell us about your partnership with them.
The relationship with UCLA began in 2010, the year they won their last NCAA championship. Our clinic is the only one like it outside of the UCLA campus. The exclusive clinic is open only to North Shore registered players and is a full day instruction with the entire UCLA softball team. Girls rotate through stations to refine skills in hitting, fielding, pitching and catching. In addition, the older girls who attend spend intimate group time with Coach in talking about managing challenges they’ll face during their busy life schedules. A highlight of each clinic is when Lisa Fernandez talks about her Olympic experiences and brings out her three gold medals. Parents and children alike are always in awe.
92130: North Shore is celebrating its 25th year this year. What are you doing to honor this milestone?
Our 25th Anniversary is a significant milestone and we will be celebrating throughout the season, beginning with the Opening Ceremony and finishing with the Paradise Tournament in Honolulu. 25th Anniversary commemorative T-shirts have been made and all the girls who registered early received a free one. Throughout the year we will be looking to reconnect with parents and players who have played an integral part of our longstanding success.
92130: You are currently coordinating a trip to the “other North Shore” to participate in the East Honolulu Girls Softball Paradise Tournament near Waikiki. Please tell us about this and how you players are funding the trip.
At the end of last year’s All Star Season I reached out to Lloyd Obuko from East Honolulu Girls Softball and asked about the possibility of teams from the mainland participating in the Paradise Tournament held in mid-August. He was very welcoming and connected me with hotels and vendors in the area to make sure there were no barriers to making it happen. Since then, we have partnered with AAA Travel in Del Mar to put together a package that includes flights, hotel, a luau, and a day trip to the North Shore. It looks like we will have at least three teams making the trip. Many of the families I have spoken to have decided to make it a family vacation, but we’ll also be looking to hold fundraisers throughout the season for families to help offset the costs of travel.
92130: Are you hosting any clinics prior to the start of the spring season? If so, please provide details.
North Shore will be hosting the UCLA clinic on January 12, 2013 and will have pitching and catching clinic on January 26th at the Carmel Valley Rec Center. Managers and coaches will have a clinic on January 27th. Other clinics will be scheduled throughout the season.