The Watchung Hills Wolverines travel softball program is designed for girls who want to play a more competitive brand of the game than they will generally see in recreation leagues.
MISSION & PHILOSOPHY
The Wolverines travel softball program aims to:
- Provide a positive and supportive atmosphere in which to engage in healthy athletic competition against peers with similar abilities.
- Teach the fundamentals of softball.
- Promote teamwork, self-confidence, pride in team, and a love for the game.
- Foster good sportsmanship in victory and defeat.
- Encourage players to cultivate friendships and have fun.
The travel softball program is open to residents of Warren, Watchung, and Green Brook. Players from other areas may try out if their hometown does not have a travel softball program; however, players from Warren, Watchung, and Green Brook may be given priority.
Players must participate in spring rec softball or middle school softball in order to be eligible for travel softball.
Age groups for travel softball are divided into two year increments: 8U (8-years-old and under), 10U, 12U, 14U, etc. In previous years, a player's age group was determined by her age at the start of a given year. For example, a player born on January 1, 2010 was eligible to play 12U for all of 2023. However, USA Softball, which sanctions the leagues and tournaments most of our teams play in, recently changed their rules to align with the player’s grade rather than birth year. A player’s age as of September 1st now determines the age group in which she is eligible to play.
Age groups for the fall 2023 and spring/summer 2024 seasons are as follows:
- 14U: birthdays between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2010
- 12U: birthdays between Sept. 1, 2010 and Aug. 31, 2012
- 10U: birthdays between Sept. 1, 2012 and Aug. 31, 2014
- 8U: birthdays Sept. 1, 2014 and younger
Due to the need to assemble teams with an appropriate number of players, some players with fall birthdays will be asked to play at the next age group even though they are eligible to play at the younger age group.
For example, a player born in November 2010 may be asked to play 14U, even though she is eligible to play 12U for the fall 2023 and spring/summer 2024 seasons. Playing up will be dealt with on a case by case basis and parent consent will be requested. Unless told otherwise, please register your daughter for the tryout age group corresponding to the dates above.
Commitment & Annual Schedule
Travel softball can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires a significant commitment from players, parents, and coaches. There are 4 seasons of travel softball: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Participation in all 4 seasons is highly encouraged.
FALL (Sept. - Oct.)
- Teams often compete in the USA Softball D2 Fall League.
- The 8-game regular season begins during the second week of September and is followed by a playoff tournament in mid/late October.
- Teams play games once or twice per week on weeknights and weekends. 14U plays mostly Sunday doubleheaders, with an occasional Thursday game; 12U plays Thursday and/or Saturday; 10U plays Friday and/or Saturday; 8U plays mostly Saturdays, with some Thursday or Friday games.
- Most teams practice once a week.
WINTER (Jan. - Mar.)
- Indoor winter training takes place once a week (often on weekends) from January to March. Coaches generally try to work around winter sports schedules.
- Pitchers are encouraged to practice pitching once or twice a week. WBSI typically secures gym space for this purpose. Contact your coach for details.
SPRING (April - May)
- Teams often compete in the USA Softball D2 Spring League.
- The 8-game regular season typically begins in early April and ends with a playoff tournament in mid-May.
- Games take place on Sundays to avoid conflicts with rec softball games.
SUMMER (June - July)
- Teams often compete in the USA Softball D2 Parkway League.
- The 10-game regular season begins during the second week of June and is followed by a playoff tournament in mid-July.
- Games take place 2-3 times per week on weeknights only. Although teams largely play on "concentration" days – Mondays and Wednesdays for 10U and 14U, Tuesdays and Thursdays for 12U, Fridays for 8U – players must be prepared to play on any weeknight during the summer.
- Some teams opt to participate in one or more weekend tournaments.
- Teams often practice once a week.
Game days are subject to change. When planning summer vacations we kindly ask families to make a good faith effort to avoid missing playoff games in mid- to late-July. While there are no games in August, some teams may decide to practice occasionally during August.
Occasional schedule changes due to weather and field availability are to be expected. Players and parents should plan to be flexible. When planning summer vacations we ask families to make a good faith effort to avoid missing playoff games in mid- to late-July. There are no games in August. Some teams, particularly those moving up in age level, may decide to practice occasionally during August.
If your daughter is not available to play during one or more seasons, please be sure to communicate this prior to tryouts. Players who miss a season are not guaranteed to be reunited with their original team.
Tryout & Selection Process
Open tryouts take place once a year in late July and/or early August. It is expected that selected players will remain with the same team for the entire year (fall to summer). Additional tryouts may take place prior to the spring and/or summer seasons if there are open roster spots.
Players’ hitting, fielding, and throwing skills will be impartially evaluated by coaches from other age groups and external evaluators. Coaches for a particular age group may facilitate the tryout, but will not evaluate players.
Players will be selected based on evaluation scores, head coach input regarding the player’s performance in previous seasons, commitment level (e.g., players who regularly attend games/practices and are willing to participate in all 4 seasons), attitude, and team needs (e.g., the player’s primary position). Previous participation in the travel program does not guarantee a roster spot.
Rosters are typically made up of 12 players. If enough player interest exists and there are a sufficient number of committed coaches, more than one team may be created at a particular age group. These teams are usually assembled by skill level to provide players the best opportunity to compete against peers with similar abilities and have a positive experience.
The travel softball program maintains the goal of including as many girls as possible, and as such, we seek to keep cuts to an absolute minimum.
- Demonstrate good sportsmanship – win or lose. Appreciate the good play of our opponents and remain humble during shining moments.
- Respect coaches, teammates, opponents, parents, and umpires.
- Be a team player and get along with your teammates.
- Regularly attend practices and games and be on time.
- Learn the rules of the game and play by them.
- Hustle on defense, when running the bases, and on/off the field between innings.
- Participate in spring rec or school softball.
- Try your best.
- Have fun!
- Model good sportsmanship – win or lose.
- Respect coaches, opponents, parents, and umpires.
- If your daughter is unable to attend a game or practice, please provide advance notice. Good communication is needed to ensure that the team never forfeits a game or plays short-handed.
- Only coaches should deliver feedback about mistakes players make during games or practices. Parents should focus on supporting players and coaches. Part of being supportive is trusting that the players are trying their best and the coaches are making decisions that are in the best interests of the team.
- If you have a concern, please talk to a coach at an appropriate time. Please remember that we are all volunteers and are doing this for the kids.
- Review the Parent Code of Conduct.
All players will bat and play multiple defense positions, giving them an opportunity to determine what they like and are good at; however, playing time at certain positions and lineup slots may be earned through ability, effort, and attitude demonstrated at practices and games. Players who demonstrate proficiency at a position may play it more often, but not exclusively.
Coaches have the right to limit a player's playing time due to lack of commitment to the team, which could include missing practices or games, or due to unsportsmanlike or inappropriate conduct.
The Watchung Hills travel program is part of WBSI, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. Teams incur expenses such as league and tournament registration fees, softballs and other equipment, umpire fees, insurance, utilities, and groundskeeping costs. These expenses are divided equally.
Player dues for each travel season are approximately $125 for less. Winter workouts costs vary by the location chosen and frequency, and generally ranges from $200-$300 per player. The cost of the uniform (paw socks, belt, and jersey customized with the player’s name and number on the back) is $65. Grey softball/baseball pants are not provided and must be purchased to complete the uniform. If your daughter participates in more than one travel season, she may reuse the uniform.
If you have any questions, contact Alex Romero or Matt Barnas.