A couple of days ago, I overheard two dads casually say that the only reason that the Gamers do the USA Baseball process is for “recruiting”, as if it was just a known fact. This is another one of those assertions that have zero basis in reality.
In the three years of running the Midwest Region for USA Baseball, over 1000 players have come through the sub-regional and regional process. 500 players have played in the St. Louis regional events, with 75% of them from outside of the St. Louis areas.
Of these players, there are at most 5 players that joined our program after the USA event (i.e. players that were not Gamers before the event, that become Gamers after the event). Note — we do our tryouts BEFORE the USA regional event. That is 5 out of 500, 1%.
We have more players than this LEAVE the Gamers program because they were upset at not being selected in the USA event.
I know that other local programs like to talk about this, and use it as a reason to prevent their players from competing in the USA events. Of course, this just limits their players from the USA Baseball National Team process, and results in the opportunities being given to kids from Oklahoma, Arkansas, etc..
But, this talk is far from the truth. And, it is more upsetting when parents just take these statements at face value, without questioning the basis.
So, why does the Gamers program help USA Baseball run the Midwest Region? Three reasons:
- It is the right thing to do, to provide Midwest region kids the opportunity to participate in the National Team Process. Over the past 2 years, we have had 8 kids selected for the National Teams Trials (none from the St. Louis area). Visit http://USABaseball.com. It is the elite of the elite in youth baseball. This is something Midwest kids deserve the opportunity to participate in. Before our involvement, there was no established pipeline from the Midwest to USA Baseball. We were honored to be selected by USA Baseball to be the Midwest regional directors.
- It expands our relationships and network with college coaches across the country. It makes the Gamers program more well-known across the country. This helps our current HS players in the college recruiting process. The USA Baseball National Team program is at the core of elite baseball for the youth and college levels.
- We learn a lot from the process — in particular, by coaching elite players from across the region and interacting with other top club programs across the country at the National Event in Cary, NC. This makes our program better, because it helps us understand what other players/clubs do and how they do it.
Update – we stopped running the USA Baseball Midwest NTIS in 2016 because the quality of the event degraded substantially in 2015/16 and the event became more about revenues to USA Baseball than the actual baseball experience of the players.
For some reason, this time of year in youth baseball and with the start of school & college, the proverb “A man is know by the company he keeps” pops into my head.