We have reached the end of the summer softball season for the younger age groups. Nationals are on the horizon for the teams who have qualified. Depending on where and how teams qualified, some will travel out of state for Nationals, while others won’t travel far at all. There are hundreds of softball National tournaments coming up across the country and they will all be jam packed with softball.
Softball teams will travel near and far for Nationals. For the younger age groups, this could be the first time the team will play a team from out of state. As the players get older, college coaches will be in attendance at select end of the summer National tournaments.
All softball National tournaments at the younger levels will kick off with an Opening Ceremony. This is something you don’t want your team to miss because it is where all of the fun begins. All of the participating teams will gather at the main complex for the Opening Ceremony before the tournament play begins. The ceremony serves as a time of celebration for all teams, players, coaches, umpires, and parents to come together before the business begins.
Each team will be announced and brought onto the main playing field at each opening ceremony. Parents, don’t forget to bring your camera. Many teams will dress in their softball uniforms, while others will make the opening event a little more fun. Don’t be surprised if you witness music, face paint, dancing, wigs, sunglasses, balloons, and candy throwers. Every team will bring something unique to the opening ceremony. It’s suppose to be fun and the teams who put some extra effort in will be the ones who stand out.
In the past, teams would bring their program or team pins to Nationals to exchange them with players of other teams. This was a great way for teams to interact during the opening ceremonies by collecting and trading pins with one another. I used to have a giant bulletin board in my room when I was growing up, filled with pins from all of the years I played at a Nationals. The tournament will only last a week, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Another thing that most teams will participate in is a gift exchange with the team they play their first game against. This was always fun if your team is lucky enough to play an out of state team; they seemed to always give the best gifts in the past. The gift exchange is similar to the pin exchange. It gives players a chance to meet someone from another team when they exchange the gift. It also helps opponents learn about the teams they are playing and where they come from.
When looking back on Nationals, most players will remember the Opening Ceremonies and the friendships they made with opposing players and the memories formed with their current teammates over winning and losing games. For those teams who aim to take the tournament more seriously, save that for when your team is on the field. Move the gift exchange to after the first game instead of before to keep the team focused. You’ll be surprised how much more focus and effort will be involved if players know a gift is on the line. Enjoy the week, make new friends, learn about another team, and represent your team with pride, it goes by fast!