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TBR interview with Rodney Threatt, Lady Blues Organization

Discussion in 'Softball Forum' started by cheeze105, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. cheeze105

    cheeze105 Moderator Staff Member

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    The Lady Blues did quite well out west this summer and I thought it would be a good idea to continue our end of summer interviews with some insight from Rodney Threatt.

    CHEEZE: Coach Threatt, give us some background on the origin of the Lady Blues Organization:

    Coach Threatt: The Lady Blues were formed in the spring of 2000 as an offspring of the Mint Hill Athletic Association. My family moved to Mint Hill in 1996 and I started coaching a 12U team for the recreation league. It was great fun as I had some great kids that were interested in learning, playing together, and having a great deal of fun. After almost four years of coaching in league and all-star teams, two other gentlemen (Dan O’Connor & Felix Hubbard) and I formed the Blues.
    I played travel softball in Illinois for 7 years, averaging 100+ games and traveling over four states, then my family grew and church ball was my option. The pig pickins, fish fries, and other socials were some of the best times of my life.
    The evolution of the Blues has been at a whirlwinds pace with many positive accomplishments and our share of “bumpy” roads as we found our way to the travel ball circuit and later the showcase/recruiting arena on a local and national level. In the beginning, we were a 14U team made up of Mint Hill & Matthews rec. players and finished one game over .500 our first year. In that year, we enjoyed playing teams like the Cardinals, Storm, Challengers, Frenzy, Crushers and other travel teams that taught us a lesson or two along the way.
    In 2001, our 14U team finished runner-up in the NSA World Series in Rock Hill and I will never forget the overwhelming support we received from all the NC teams that last day as we fought to make the finals. Some of our rivals were there till the end and to me that is what softball is all about.
    Since 2001, we have been fortunate to attract great talent which has made my coaching career much better than my ability to coach! In 2002, we decided to have a 16U and 18U team so we could keep all our players in Blue and in 2003, we had a 12U, 14U, and 18U team. That was a tough year trying to manage my team and stay in touch with two other teams with coaches that had not been in Blues organization.
    You see, the Blues were never supposed to blossom into a “college prep” team, it was simply to prepare kids to play HS softball at a higher level and when my daughter finished HS, it was to end.
    From 2003 till present our 18U has played ASA showcases, NSA showcases, ASA qualifiers, ASA Nationals and have also attended Rising Stars, Va Beach Fall Showcase, Boulder, after qualifying, and have ventured to California and New Jersey. Of course, we love playing in Cardinal Classic, Early Bird, Bandits, and Dynamites as well. We looked to Ray Chandler, Charlie Dobbins, and other quality organization (Flames & Crushers) as we designed our Blues Organization. While we have had growing pains, coaching issues, and negative vibes from some in softball world we continue to pursue perfection and realize we still have a great deal of work ahead.
    53 Blues have played, signed, or committed to play college softball since the fall of 2003, 58% D-1, 34% D-11, and 8% D-111, Juco, or NAIA. These young ladies have all done well but as Rick stated in his interview not all players finished school playing softball, two of our catchers had shoulder injuries end their career after one year and a few others decided to concentrate on books.



    CHEEZE: Coach, what does it take to make this organization operate. How do you decide what tournaments you will play, how early do you look at this and do you let your teams decide for themselves?

    Coach Threatt: It was simple when we had the one 14U team but as the organization developed so did the complexity of the issues and business needs. It truly became a second job for me and some of the others involved. 2002, we added an 18U team in order to keep kids that had to move up as we attempted to maintain a 16U presence as well. We had separate budgets but did communicate on the tournaments we felt were best and our goals for World Series.

    As we continue our growth, we tried to have a board of directors, various committees, and by-laws, etc. but in early years we had so many issues with coaching, parents, players, and vendors, as well as turnover, the board just did not work out for our organization. Volunteers have been a huge part of our success, providing administrative duties, travel assistance, website development, fund rising planning, and of course coaching.

    We have stuck with the coaches meeting which is used in deciding the focus of the organization and the type of tournaments we play. I retain final authority on any decision that may affect the Lady Blues Organization but put a great deal of trust in my coaches.

    Over the years, I have averaged 25 hours a week dealing with tournaments, practice fields, players, parents, college coaches, uniform issues, travel, budgets, etc. I let each team have their own budget, fund raisers, fee collections, and uniforms; I do require specific color combinations and expect to be in the loop with any specific problems involving teams.

    Organizations much operate as a small business with a business plan, departments, leaders, workers, and players to be successful. There must be a final decision maker or makers so things can move forward. Most teams and organizations in NC seem to do a great job of management.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  2. cheeze105

    cheeze105 Moderator Staff Member

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    CHEEZE: Do you have someone who is responsible for contacting college coaches about your players and how much of a hand do you have in placing your players??

    Coach Threatt: We have a pretty extensive recruiting plan for each of our girls. We start out by discussing potential major or majors, ask for a list of at least 10 potential schools of interest, prepare profiles, work on e-mail preparation to college coaches and a follow up routine or schedule so that we assure our kids become a person and not just another recruit to the college coaches. We truly want the coach to know the kind of person, student, and ball players each of our kids have been and will be at their school.
    I am copied on every e-mail sent to a college coach and I follow up with coaches on a regular basis to update them on a player’s progress, discuss events in our player’s life including awards in softball, academics, and other areas. We work as a team to increase our potential of success. We also want our players to visit schools on their list as practical so they can get a feel for the school. We also suggest they attend a softball game or two to get a feel for Coach in game situations and warm ups! Also, we suggest checking out rosters to see the year in school for various positions and need for various positions; it is always good to know your potential competition and school’s needs.
    Prior to the beginning of our season, we provide all college coaches our schedule and then each individual player sends our schedule to the coaches on their list as well. Before each event, we attend, we have each player send our game schedule to each of their school coaches and then follow up a day or so prior to tournament to just say hope to see you at our games.
    After the tournament, we provide all our kids with list of college coaches that attended our games and all write them and thank them for their time and effort in watching the Lady Blues play! Of course, I personally thank every coach I see at a showcase or elimination event as I know they could attend other events and watch other teams so I do appreciate them watching the Blues, heck even if they come to watch the team we are playing; they may see one of our kids and put them on their radar, especially if we are playing the top teams in a tournament.
    Since College Coaches can speak to me about players at any time, I seek them out and try to get an idea of their thoughts about various players, their needs for their team, and where our kids stand in the mix. I remember in 2005, we had a kid pursuing a particular school, she e-mailed, she followed every procedure to succeed and felt she was on the school’s short list. I finally ran down the Coach and discovered they were not recruiting this particular young ladies position! We were able to sit down with the kid’s family and head in another direction and this young lady is a D-1 star at this point with a school that has been great for her! Communication is the key to successful experience in recruiting! Also you must be open to listening and reviewing all options!
    Yea some players get lucky, show up at showcase events and get recruited but to be successful day in and day out, you must have a plan which includes TEAMWORK!


    CHEEZE: Much has been discussed about the cost of traveling to the top tournaments vs the exposure. How do you view this and do you feel that its worth it for the girls?

    Coach Threatt: Much had been said about traveling to Boulder, New Jersey, Florida, Vegas, and other areas to play softball. Most said has been negative but most have never attended any of these events and have no idea what we are experiencing. My daughter still talks about the 2001 Super World Series in Kansas City and the 2002 Super World in Vegas! As stated earlier Boulder is just a great experience and the quality of the teams is outstanding. If you love softball at the highest level, you must experience Boulder! Last year we played the team that won Boulder and that same team won the Gold Nationals this year, they beat us 2-0 with 11 D-1 recruits on their team. This year we played the 2008 16U ASA champs that had 8 kids committed to Pac 10 schools as well as a couple other teams that made Gold Nationals! We defeated Fresno Force and So. Cal Diamonds Gold and Bat busters, three power house teams which was a huge thrill for our young team last year as we strive to compete at a higher level.
    I see time and again on TBR that NC kids and teams can play with anybody, how do we know unless we attend these type of tourneys? We have gone to Clovis, CA, Henderson KY, Columbus, Ga, Moline, Ill., Texas, and Vegas over the past 6 years to test our wares and so have a couple more NC teams at least a portion of these events. These events help all NC teams, I think the Cobras, Cardinals, and Triangle Lighting, and Sun Devils would have to agree.
    We are sold on the benefits of National tournaments and playing the best! The expense can be as little or as big as you want it to be but if you use it as a vacation, you can get a huge benefit from a family experience and memories no one can take away.


    CHEEZE: Your DD is grown now, why do you keep yourself involved in the Lady Blues Organization?

    Coach Threatt: I have not had a child active with Blues since fall of 2003! My daughter was injured her senior year, continued to play school ball but was not able to play all summer!
    For six years now, I have continued to be a part of the Blues due to my love for the game and my wife’s willingness to allow me the privilege of working with these wonderful young ladies. I did make a promise to kids back in 2005, I would hang until the 2010’s were all signed but I have no intention of quitting at this point!
    We are forming a 14U, have a 16U, and now two 18U teams so I have to much work to do to walk away. Also, I dearly enjoy the great coaching staff and friendship and the knowledge sharing, we all are willing to provide.
    Also, we have some unfinished business in assuring NC softball can continue its goal of being a force year in and year out on a national level. I truly want all kids to experience the fun and excitement of playing college softball if they chose that route and am always happy for any NC team’s success.
     
  3. cheeze105

    cheeze105 Moderator Staff Member

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    CHEEZE: What is your opinion of the state of softball in the carolina's and how can we work to improve it??

    Coach Threatt:
    Oh well, this topic is tough as I will make some unhappy no matter what I say and of course many will disagree with my assessment but I must be honest based on my years in NC softball.

    We are not ready to play on a national level at any age group on a regular basis at this point in time! Unless we can consolidate some of the better teams and basically put the top 14 or so players at each age level on one team at each of those age levels we may not ever consistently compete. This statement does not mean that many other teams can’t exist and compete and get kids signed to play college ball. We are reaching total parity.

    We must have nine players on the field that are all a true threat at the plate and can play great defense!

    We must develop more softball IQ! Overall, NC kids lack softball savvy, there are kids on every team that do truly understand and study the game but most will not study the game or watch other teams play. It is critical to react and not have to think about what you need to do.

    Know the rules! Use them when it can assist your team.

    We need power pitchers with good control and a mental toughness to weather rocky starts or innings and finesse pitchers that hit their spots, have great movement, and do not get upset over an occasional mistake. Reaching this level takes tremendous commitment!

    We must have dedicated players that take softball as their only sport or at least their only sport majority of the year. If you want to play college ball, this becomes a must.

    We must be supportive of each other and stop trying to tear down positives that each team or organization achieves. We all can benefit from a NC team’s success!

    California teams, especially at Gold level play each other every where they go but they all communicate and learn from their various experience and hope all reach nationals as it is better for the state and all the teams, the more that have success. Now they do want bragging rights for sure and many go to Boulder just for that right!

    These Cal girls will not miss a practice or tournament as they know there are several girls waiting to take their place, we have so many teams that it becomes tough to keep quality players and have them attend all events.

    NC teams have it tough competing at the highest level every year as we are all fighting for the best talent and if college kids are taken out of the equation, we will have a tougher time competing at the national stages.
    Some teams and organization are extremely supportive of each other and it is evident which ones succeed regularity.

    One NC travel coach recently was openly recruiting a player from an opposing team during a game as while in his coaching box yelled out to crowd to find out parent of a kid he was seeking. This practice is a regular routine and phone calls, e-mails, and other forms of contact are done as there seems to be so much pressure to seek better players, not for the benefit of team or player but more for ego stroking!

    Always remember the player is the one headed to college, not the organization, the coach, the parent! The kid’s performance makes us all look extremely gifted or a bust!

    “The kid deserves the credit when they achieve and the coach deserves the credit when they do not!” Remember that as you coach your kids, LOL!

    Lastly, parents much let their child handle team oriented issues, including playing time, positions, improvement needs, etc. The great teams have no parental issues as they just get rid of the kid! That is such a bad situation for the kid and the family as a whole, college coaches figure out quickly which parent or parents to avoid! Please don’t kill your kids chances by getting involved in situations for which you do not understand, be objective and honest with your kid!!!!!!!!!! Let the coach handle all softball related issues on the field.

    I love NC softball and most of the kids and parents, I have met and know are wonderful people. My thoughts are straight forward but meant to help our kids succeed even more!
     
  4. marlinfan1

    marlinfan1 Full Access Member

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    ....wise bird, that Owl!

    thanks cheeze and RT.

    Marlin
     
  5. cheeze105

    cheeze105 Moderator Staff Member

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    CHEEZE: Coach, I would like to thank you for your time and effort with this interview. We all wish you the best of luck for your organization and for your girls also.
     
  6. slapyasilly

    slapyasilly Softball dadda

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    Very good information and a great interview.
    I just met Rodney a couple weeks ago and loved his org and how he managed the girls.

    Coming from the west coast I have seen a lot of what he talks about (in regards to the wc) and would agree strongly.
    Rodney is dead on about the practice and playing thing.

    I also agree, the boulder tourney, nationals and some others, are huge and until you see the consistent team after team of bottomless top notch players, you may not understand what he means, but he is right. if you love the game, you go, you watch/play, you understand. it is an awesome sight.

    I hope folks listen to what you have to say and thanks for the time and effort to put it out there.
     
  7. stiksdad

    stiksdad Full Access Member

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    Outstanding interview, everything very well said, thank you for the time and effort you have put into NC softball.
     
  8. The Hedgehog

    The Hedgehog Full Access Member

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    ....

    :biggthumpup:
    As always...GOOD STUFF
     
  9. CometFan

    CometFan Moderator

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    Nice, Ed and Rodney!
     
  10. cheeze105

    cheeze105 Moderator Staff Member

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    bump
     

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