Reflecting upon OnDeck Softball in 2013
A year and a half ago, OnDeck Softball was the leading College Softball Recruiting Service in the country based upon the Allister Report and a series of events – the NorCal Jamboree, the Arizona Jamboree, the June Jamboree, and the West Coast National Elite Camp. While this has held true, the decision to step aside from my regular job – teaching English – and spend more time on softball, has allowed OnDeck to explode in ways not even we could have imagined, and today OnDeck is helping more schools and more players than ever before.
In response to the overwhelming number of requests we get virtually every day of the year from parents, players, and travel ball people to see and evaluate more and more players, we refined an idea that had been brewing for nearly two years – the OnDeck Tryouts. As one of our first acts in the Fall of 2012, we launched a tryout in Northern California as a test run for the idea. When that went well, we scheduled a second one in Arizona which went equally as well. A month later, we put together our Tryout Schedule, and the results were phenomenal. At the June Jamboree, just over 33% of the participating players came through the tryout system. At the Colorado National Jamboree, 101 of the 193 players came from our series of tryouts. And no story is better than that of an unknown Alyssa DiCarlo who came to the AZ Tryout, was subsequently invited to Mt. SAC, and had offers from schools across the country before settling on the University of Georgia.
In addition to the Tryouts, we expanded our event schedule at the request of the College Coaches with whom we work. We added the Chicago Jamboree in the Summer of 2012 and ran a test event in the South. At the same time we got seriously involved with the Chicago Bandifest, which we thought would be a great supporting event for the Summer Jamboree. Now, both Chicago events are firmly established as solid recruiting stops for the College Coaching community. We always had kept our eye on the State of Texas since we have roots in that State and many fond memories of our two daughters playing out there. So we scheduled a Dallas Jamboree in the Fall of 2013. In late September of 2013, we had our first Texas event, the Dallas Jamboree, and it will be a regular stop for OnDeck Softball in the years to come. Another idea we had been tossing around for years came to fruition with the establishment of the Colorado National Jamboree – a monster event run in Aurora, CO in conjunction with Triple Crown Sports. In a million years, we could never have imagined the success of the Colorado National Jamboree that we held six months ago. TCS estimated that over 200 College Coaches attended the 2 day event, and the energy and enthusiasm in Aurora that day were remarkable. And finally, we launched an idea Joann had been promoting for several years – the East Coast National Elite Camp. The East Coast National Camp, a replica of our West Coast National Elite Camp, became a tremendous success in November. Held at Georgia Gwinnett’s beautiful, new facility, the East Coast National Elite Camp provided a remarkable venue for players from up and down the East Coast, throughout the South, and many parts of the Midwest and Texas. So now, our line-up has exploded from the 4 recruiting events of the past to a series of events nationwide – the June Jamboree, Colorado National Jamboree, Chicago Jamboree, NorCal Jamboree, Dallas Jamboree, West Coast National Elite Camp, East Coast National Elite Camp, Arizona Jamboree, and the Chicago Banditfest. And this recruiting trail has fulfilled our vision of creating a series of tiered events – beginning with the Tryouts, moving to the Regional Jamborees, and finishing with the three National level events.
In addition to the additional events and at the behest of a large contingent of College Coaches, we also refined our ODM Testing and got these measurables pointed in the right direction. Almost three years ago we started a series of objective measurements called OnDeck Measurements or ODM. Measurables are finding a real niche in the game these days, and OnDeck Softball has been at the forefront of that movement in the recruiting world. Several schools were already measuring their athletes, but no outside group was compiling this data for large numbers of softball players. In the Summer of 2013, we took ODM to a new level. At the present time, we have data on almost 3000 players, and this Fall we went where no one in softball has gone before. We unveiled the ODM Allister Index. The Allister Index is a formula, created by a statistician from UC Davis and based upon the ODM numbers from that extensive group of athletes. The Allister Index provides a single number for a player that reflects her raw softball athleticism based upon her ODM results. At this point in time, every athlete who participates in an OnDeck Tryout or recruiting event generates an Allister Index for herself after finishing her testing. Needless to say, many in the college coaching community are eagerly devouring those numbers and looking at them as they evaluate their list of prospects. It is going to be imperative in the next year or two that every serious softball player, who is interested in playing at the next level, will need to establish an ODM Allister Index and then work at improving that score.
This next year should provide many other great opportunities for all of us as we continue this softball journey. But we never tire or lose sight of the fun we have helping others. It is fun to watch young players, who we get to know initially as 8th or 9th graders, grow and mature over the years. It is fun to see them refine their skills and embrace their talent. It is still exciting to us when we get those special emails to let us know that a player from one of our events has found the school of her dreams. “OnDeck girls” populate college rosters across the country, and one of our greatest pleasures is following the progress of so many of them each and every weekend of the College Softball season. A year from now, OnDeck Softball will be better than ever as we incorporate and implement several new ideas that will help OnDeck grow. We are excited about 2014 and the prospects that lie ahead.