Come on, old timers! You remember this old black and white TV show that starred Chuck Connors, who’s character was fictitiously drummed out of the Army to allow him to go undercover and solve all kinds of problems. It was a classic that you can still see on the Me Network.
Branded used to have a negative connotation. Well, turn the clock ahead to 2018 and branding is now a very big deal in the world of travel-ball fastpitch. Depending on your viewpoint, it’s a really good thing or a very bad thing.
Let’s take a look.
A few years ago the idea of creating a national brand for your softball organization started to gain momentum. We now have Firecrackers teams in about 30 different states. You also have Batbuster, Glory, KC Freedom and Impact teams representing many different states. And the trend is gaining momentum with many more organizations working to create national brands.
Why is national branding gaining momentum?
The incentive for teams is clear. College coaches are more likely to recruit players from teams that are a part of a national brand because that national brand clearly means that the players are the best candidates for college programs.
Yes, many players get recruited from Firecracker, Batbuster, Glory and Bullets teams. But let’s be honest, those players are not getting recruited because they are on any team in that organization, they are getting recruited because they are the best players on the team they play on.
Do some college coaches like to start their search with the name-brand teams? Of course! It’s easy! But just being branded doesn’t mean your players will get recruited. They have to be able to play!
A few years ago, a very good friend of mine who coaches in California told me he was going to change organizations and join Firecrackers. He said that he was having trouble getting good players because many players wanted to be identified as part of a name-brand organization.
A couple weeks later he sent me his schedule for the upcoming Surf City showcase I was going to attend. His team was going to play 5 games…all against other Firecrackers teams!!!! Now it was Firecrackers whatever agains Firecrackers whoever but I had to laugh!
A brand can help you get seen by a college coach, but it’s not the golden ticket many people want to believe it is.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.