Vermont ASA: USASoftball News

Tuesday, November 10
USASoftball Rebranding
The biggest change to come out of the National Council Meeting is in a rebranding that ASA will undergo over the next year or so. Since 1978, ASA has been the National Governing Body of softball as named by the USOC, pursuant to the Amateur Sports Act. Since then, ASA has owned the USASoftball brand, and most recently has been known as ASA/USA Softball. Shortly we will be known simply as USASoftball, while legal documents filed with the Fed will include DBA Amateur Softball Association, ASA, and American Softball Association. We will file our paperwork in Vermont as USASoftball of Vermont, DBA VermontASA. This change is long overdue, and it is the hope of the Council that it will help promote our sport as we strive to get back into the 2020 Olympics. We won’t see any new logos until at least May.

Tuesday, November 10
Junior Olympic - Regional Merge
There is a plan to merge ASA Regions. In the current plan Region I and II get merged. The new Region I would have the New England associations plus the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania associations. We might be able to offer regional JO tournaments again.

Monday, November 9
Junior Olympic - 12U All-start Camp and Tourney

The National Team Selection Committee is charged with identifying talent for our five national teams. They do the in a variety of ways. But because they recognize that there is no way to find all of the talent in our country, they chose to hold open tryouts for the Junior Women’s National Team. A year ago I forwarded out to coaches a notice that the Selection Committee was holding open tryouts for the JWNT in Irvine CA. About 100 girls showed up for tryouts. 10 took their camp t-shirt and badge and went home. That was apparently enough for them, as they apparently felt they could not compete with the rest. Of the ninety that remained, 10 got invited back for the second day. Besides the 10 from the open tryouts, the second day also had 30 invitees, many of whose names you would recognize from freshmen playing at the Women’s College World Series. At the end of tryouts, four of the girls made the JWNT. They didn’t make the alternate list, they made the top 17 that represented our country. So they came out of nowhere, tried out and made a team of the best 19 year olds in the world. Who says dreams can’t happen.

I told you that story as a preface to this. There is a plan just now in the works to have either a four team or eight team tournament of 12U players from around the country played in OKC. It is more likely that tryouts for this would be conducted by region, rather than advancing as a team, though plans for this haven't been finalized. Those going to OKC would go out two days early for a clinic by the National Team coaches, and viewed by the NT Selection Committee. If successful, and I don’t have any reason to believe it wouldn’t be, they would add a 14U bracket the following year.



Monday, November 9
Junior Olympic - MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run

Major League Baseball's Pitch Hit and Run continues to grow and be successful, with USASoftball supplying the girls side of the athletes. Those girls you see shagging fly balls during the homerun contest at the MLB All-Star game are USASoftball girls. To host a Local PH&R competition you must have 30 girls ages 7-14. This competition must be held between February and May, and is often done in conjunction with signups or tryouts.

From the local competition, girls advance to the Sectional. From the Section the girls advance to the Team competition, which is held in a major league park. Winners of the Team compatition and their family get flown to the MLB All-Star game on MLBs dime.

If you’re interested, please check out www.pitchhitrun.com for further information, or email pitchhitrun@mlb.com.



Monday, November 9
Junior Olympic - RegisterASA
ASAs IT department will roll out its changes to RegisterASA in December. The Team page should look cleaner and less busy. Team Issues should be more prominently displayed. They are preparing a new league registration excel file for uploading. The ACE test will have a button to click on which will force an answer to appear. A player may be moved from one team to another without creating a zero dollar invoice. Player BCs may be uploaded right into RegisterASA so you don’t have to mail them to me. These are just some of the changes.

Sunday, November 8
Junior Olympic - Insurance rates
Insurance rates went up as we expected, however USASoftball of Vermont is able to absorb these costs for the 2016 season without a player fee increase. Now VT will make next to nothing on players, depending on the adult increase to continue to conduct business. As mentioned previously, I didn’t want to raise rates for both players and coaches in the same year. In 2017, when the player rate goes up, I expect to be able to offer Paypal as an option when registering teams.

Sunday, November 8
Junior Olympic - Player Eligibility

The age bracket an athlete plays in is determined by their age on January first of the registration year, even though the registration year started on the previous 9/1.

 

USASoftball's “A” program is designed for competitive travel teams, while the “B” program is designed for less skilled teams. The "C" program is geared toward instructional rec leagues. Both the USASoftball's A and B programs lead to National Championships. Each classification may hold a State Championship in each age group. If you form an all-star team from a rec league, they must "play up" and enter a B State or National. An A team  must qualify for an A national championship as it is more structured.

 

Wayne Straiton

USASoftball of Vermont ASA Junior Olympic Commissioner



Saturday, November 7
Junior Olympic - Email lists

Hello all. I’ve split my email list into two lists, current team admins, and coaches. I now primarily email the Admin list, and let them forward to their coaches.



Saturday, November 7
Junior Olympic - Tournaments
As always, www.asanewengland.com is a primary source to find tournaments in New England. When I get the dates of Vermont tournaments, I will post them to the Vermont ASA website. Umpire fees for ASA games in Vermont will be $45 in 2016, as was announced last year. This is still behind what bordering states offer their umpires. This is necessary to keep the fastpitch umpires working youth games in Vermont, rather than going to slowpitch where they can get 8 games in a day on a Saturday tournament, or 4 games at a weeknight league. TournamentASA is growing in popularity and prominence. It might be worthwhile to check out this website.

Friday, November 6
Junior Olympic - Code/Rules/Procedure

2016 has only two ASA Rule changes that pertain to JO play. On deck batters may use either on deck circle. Batting helmets no longer require chin straps.

 

There are two significant ASA Code changes. A player may now only be released from a roster once. This applies to Championship Play. So she can play on two Championship Play teams, but not three. For example, if she plays in States in ME., then moves to VT and plays in a National Qualifier with a different team, she is then locked to that team. She cannot drop that team and go back to ME., or to another team to go to Nationals.

 

A pick-up player for Championship Play must come from an ASA registered team.

 

A pick-up player for Championship Play may now come from a bordering state.

 

Class B JO teams no longer have to be from the same league. We never could enforce this since we didn’t have leagues.

 

There are no significant ASA Procedural changes.

 

Wayne Straiton

USASoftball of Vermont Junior Olympic Commissioner 



Tuesday, August 25
New For 2016

On 9/1/16 you may begin the registration process for your 2016 teams. If you are planning on having fall/winter camps/clinics/tryouts, and you want the players insured, you must register each player with your team(s). If they don’t remain with your team, they may be dropped from your team any time. There is a limit of 20 players per team, so you might have to form multiple teams if you are running a large clinic.

A player is only ever invoiced once, with the first team with which she registers. After that, she may move to another team, or be added to another team, free of charge. Her ID card is mailed to the Team Admin of the first team with which she registers.

There are several changes for the upcoming 2016 season.

The registration fee for players will remain at $10 per non-photo team, and $20 per photo team, for 2016.

The registration fee for adults will be $20. There are a couple of reasons for the five dollar increase. First, it became cumbersome to charge a different amount than was generated on the invoice. It worked ok when there were only about five teams that did Individual Registration, but with 17 it became difficult to manage. The second reason quite frankly had to do with the weather. The rainout at Brattleboro meant that only half the teams got their rule books that weekend. The rest got their books at St. Albans, a little late to be of much use. I had kept the fees so low that it wasn’t possible to mail out the books. Going forward, I will mail the books for paid coaches to the Team Admin when I get them in April.

As in the past, Team Admins are only invoiced if they are also a coach.

For years the VT ASA JO program has been supported by the adult program. That needs to stop. We have to be self-sustaining. So instead of paying $10 per invoice for each invoice after the first one, you’ll be paying $4.95 per invoice, just like it says on the invoice. Whether or not you choose to invoice fewer but larger groups of team members is up to you. The cost of insurance went up recently, so you’ll probably see an increase in the player cost for 2017. I didn’t want to increase both players and coaches in the same year.

Here’s where you might save some money. VT ASA has arranged with the national office to offer an ASA stand-alone background check. So while you still need at least one coach in the dugout to be ACE certified, the other coaches and Team Admin only need to have an ASA background check performed. As usual, all non-playing adults in the dugout have to be ASA background checked, whether or not they do it through the ACE program.

With 18+ teams, presuming all teams return, it is far too time consuming for me to do all of the data entry. Team Admins will have to enter their team members themselves. Some of you did this process yourselves in 2015, and for that I thank you. To begin for 2016, RegisterASA gives you the option of copying your team over to the 2016 season. Do this, and then delete all players that have aged out. There is a feature on the Team Page that allows you to see which players need birth certificates checked. If Issues says Yes, then click on the yes and a page will open listing each team member that has an outstanding issue. Usually it is a BC or a BGCK.

After you have added in your new players, and added photos if you choose, you will also do the added step of clicking on the Generate Invoice button. You’ll send me a check for the invoice amount, along with the birth certificates. As usual, I prefer scans of BCs rather than paper. It’s easier for me to delete the scans and run a defrag on my PC in August, than to shred all of those BCs. After I receive the check, I verify the BCs and approve the players. As usual, I won’t approve any player I haven’t got a BC on, and I won’t approve any coach that has cleared their BGCK. And as in the past, you only need to provide BCs for new players, not those that have previously been individually registered through VT ASA.

As mentioned before, the invoice amount won’t include players that have already been invoiced previously with another team. Another consideration is that if a player is registered and submitted with two teams at the same time, the second invoice will change after the first one is approved. It is better to invoice one team and wait for the approval, and then invoice the second team. In this way the second invoice will be accurate.

All registration files on the website have been updated and are available for download at our website, www.vermontasa.com.

For those running tournaments under the ASA name, there will be an added tournament sanctioning form that must be filled out and submitted. This is now on the website.

Lastly, as far as money is concerned, I’m looking at the cost associated with Paypal. This could eliminate check writing for you, and speed up the registration process. It is most likely that we won’t have this capability for 2016, but I’d like to hear your opinion as to whether you would like to have the option for 2017.

Next year’s rule changes are voted on 11/5. Shortly after that I’ll post them on the website.



Thursday, February 6
Junior Olympic - Concussion Awareness
All 50 states have laws on the books dealing with concussions. In most states it pertains only to scholastic play. However, in some states it applies to recreational ball also. So if you have a travel team and play out of state, you may be required to provide a concussion training certificate. While it might not be an issue for you at this time, state laws are always changing. I wouldn’t want you to get caught off guard. NFHS offers a course, as does the CDC.

Wednesday, January 22
Junior Olympic - ASA Softball Mobile App
There exists a mobile app to the USASoftball national website. It is accessed through m.asasoftball.org. For those that can't wait for the rule book to come out, or wish to have the book electronically, it can be purchased for $4.95 on the website.

Thursday, March 28
Junior Olympic - Registration and Insurance
I received an email from a MA tournament director yesterday asking if a VT JO team was registered. They are not currently registered, and I told him so. If a TD asks me about a teams registration status, I will give them an answer based on my current records, regardless of whether you are starting a new team or have had a team registered for years. If you are entering your team in tournaments, you should have sent me your teams registration materials. I would strongly suggest that any team that has not done so yet, do so asap. As mentioned in a previous email, these registrations need to be sent to me and not Lynn Ribolini. I’m not calling Rib every time a TD questions a registration, because the team might have sent their paperwork to the wrong person.
 
This brings me to insurance. Bollinger sent Rib a list of insured JO teams (Team insurance not Individual insurance). Half of these teams had not yet registered with VT ASA. Bollinger intends this insurance to be for registered teams. If a player gets hurt in a spring practice, and her team isn’t registered yet with USASoftball of Vermont, I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess as to what the legal ramifications might be. Another reason to get your registration done in a timely fashion.
 
Wayne Straiton
USASoftball of Vermont Junior Olympic Commissioner


Thursday, February 7
Junior Olympic - Background Checks

USASoftball requires that all non-player adults in the dugout or on the field be background checked (BGCK). This is why you’ll often see the scorekeeper at a tournament sitting in the lawnchair outside the dugout. The team didn’t want to spend the money to have the scorekeeper BGCK’d. Not all BGCKs are the same. Since USASoftball has no idea how good of a BGCK another organization performs, they require their own. USASoftball uses LexusNexus to do BGCKs, which is generally accepted as the most comprehensive available. People routinely fail the USASoftball BGCK after having passed other BGCKs.

 

Wayne Straiton

USASoftball of Vermont Junior Olympic Commissioner



Thursday, February 7
Junior Olympic - Achieve, Certify, Educate

Info on taking the ACE course is in the Download section. You’ll need an email address and a credit card (CC). If a coach doesn’t have a computer, get them a free gmail address on someone elses computer. The BGCK system might get persnickety if two people share the same email address. The general process for BGCK is: You initiate your ACE and pay with a CC. Then they do the BGCK as part of ACE. Due to various state laws this can take from one hour to two weeks, depending on the state you currently live in. For example, VT residents take much less time than NY residents. A few states generate a manual search of county courthouse records. When the ACE server receives your cleared BGCK, it allows you to complete your ACE. FYI, if you are a returning coach, and you lose your RegisterASA signon, don’t create a second one. Go through the process to find out what your original signon is. The reason is because every time you use a new signon, it resets you back to Level 1 ACE. Levels 2, 3, and 4 are cheaper, and have different content. It takes a call to tech support to have to accounts merged and reset to your proper Level if you create a new signon. This is out of my hands. ACE can generally be done in December for the following year. I get the precise start date every year in November.

 

Wayne Straiton

USASoftball of Vermont Junior Olympic Commissioner



Thursday, February 7
Junior Olympic - Registration

With Individual Registration, a team must provide a girls birth certificate only once for her USASoftball VT JO career. No more carrying around a stack of BCs from tournament to tournament. If a girl changes or gets added to a team anywhere in the country, her insurance goes with her. Parents need not worry about whether their daughter was added to the team list.  Team Admins with teams using IR may go online and print a roster or a basic team insurance certificate. Also, with IR every coach gets a rulebook.

 

I can submit your team at any time after September 1. As soon as I get your check and Birth Certificate, they are insured. Bollinger is really good about not giving me grief if a girl gets hurt at a practice before I officially submit their names. With IR, players ID cards will print right away, as will coaches with cleared BGCKs. Coaches need to complete their ACE before I approve them.

 

Teams do the data entry for their team using Individual Registration. In the case of a league, I can upload an Excel doc. A Team Admin is assigned in the system, which I can electronically Emulate with my commissioner rights if I need to. This is how I adjust players on a team’s behalf.

 

Wayne Straiton

USASoftball of Vermont Junior Olympic Commissioner