What is Competitive Softball
Competitive (aka Travel) softball is the next step up from recreational girls softball. It can be a relatively small step up the competitive ladder -- or it can be a difficult and expensive leap. UGRA teams are on the lower end of the cost spectrum and typically play in local tournaments within the Des Moines Metro.
Players Have to Try Out
While many recreational leagues let anybody play -- as roster space permits -- competitive teams typically recruit players and conduct tryouts. UGRA does have a tryout process (outlined below) for competitive softball for all players. Players are evaluated on how they perform on various skills which can be found here.
Teams may play in leagues and tournaments sanctioned national bodies such as the Amateur Softball Association of America, the National Softball Association, the United States Specialty Sports Association, (USSSA) the United States Fastpitch Association, the American Fastpitch Association, Perfect Game and the National Fastpitch Softball Association. Rules vary from group to group, so players, coaches and parents must understand the differences. UGRA teams typically plays in USSSA and Perfect Game sanctioned tournaments.
A, B and C Designations
Most of softball's major sanctioning bodies have "A" , "B" and "C" designations for local, regional and national tournaments. The difference between "A" and "B" can be murky. but are typically based on the number of returning players to an age for the team and what level they were the previous season. Our competitive committee will place your child on a team that is appropriate for their skill level, provided there are enough roster spots available at the higher levels.
A Significant Time Commitment
Players give up more than their summer weekends to play on a competitive team. These teams often play and practice during the week, too. Most teams will end the first or second week of July. Most teams will also practice one or two times a week indoors during the winter months. As the age of the player increases, the time commitment will also increase.
Players gain a lot from competitive softball. Tournaments and practices give players a chance to bond away from the field. Long-term friendships form. The constant work allows players to rapidly improve their skill level. Coaching tends to be better. Players gain from competing regularly against other ambitious players.
Competitive Registration Timelines
Click on each image below for more information
June 1 - 18
June 29 - July 19
July 19 - July 28
Competitive Softball Information and FAQ
If your daughter is interested in joining a team, the process is as follows:
- Player register for the upcoming season
- Player participates in tryouts,
- Competition committee reviews evaluations and determines team placement
- Committee member contacts players with offers to join a teams (if applicable).
- Players accept or decline offers
- Coaches are assigned teams once rosters are finalized
- Coaches contact players
- Season begins
June 1- June 18
Three different dates for all players will be available. You will choose one.
- Tuesday June 29th
- Wednesday July 7th
- Monday June 19th
If your player is a pitcher or catcher (10U and older), tryouts are on the same days as above, however you can opt to choose one of the other days if you wish.
Evaluation Review and Rostering
Offers Made to Players
Our goal is to provide an opportunity for every girl that expresses interest to play on a competitive team. We encourage all girls to register and tryout, regardless of skill or experience. The rostering process allows our committee to create teams of all levels, provided we have enough girls. While there is no guarantee that your child will make a team, the competition committee strives to roster every girl who registers and goes through the tryout process.
It's no secret that competitive softball, just as with any other competitive sports, can become pretty expensive. UGRA recognizes this and tries to offer a program that is much more cost effective option. We are able to do this through various methods.
You can expect the following out of pocket expenses (if applicable)
- Registration fees
The fees for the 2021-22 season are $475.00. Most comparable programs in the area are in excess of $1000.00 per player.
- Player Equipment
Players are responsible for their own helmets, bats, glove and facemasks. The cost for this equipment can vary depending on places you purchase from, whether the equipment is new or used, and the brands/quality of equipment you select.
The core uniform is typically two different jerseys, softball pants, two different pairs of socks and two different belts. These are often modeled after the Urbandale high school uniforms. We work with vendors to keep the costs as low as possible. Finally, we change out the styles once every three years, as another effort to keep costs low. You can expect to play approx. $200.00 for a full uniform set.
In addition to he core uniform coaches may opt to have another jersey or two for special events, such a a Pink Out Tournament or a third normal jersey option for long weekends or hotter days. An additional jersey can cost anywhere from $25-35 on average.
Finally, you will also be given the opportunity to purchase apparel that will assist in cold weather days, such as a windbreaker and/or sweatshirt. While not required to purchase, it is required that any outerwear has the player number visible on it, so that is a convenient option parents often select. These items can cost between $30-$60.
To help offset some of the optional apparel cost, coaches may take on additional fundraising options to cover these expenses.
- Tournaments Days
Tournament days/weekends can be long days spent at the ballpark. Most, if not all sites that we tend to play at have concession stands. You will want to factor this or eating out into your overall budgets
- Travel outside the Metro
Your team may decide to travel to a tournament that would necessitate an overnight stay. These are fun and rewarding for the players and also give parents a chance to build additional rapport. You would be responsible for all costs associated with transportation, lodging and meals. Typically a team would not do more than one travel tourney, if that.
A potion ($300) of your initial fees are designed to cover almost all of following items:
- Team equipment (if needed)
- 10 Indoor hitting practices over the winter
- A small portion of operational costs needed to maintain the complex
- A minimum of 5 local tournaments
Your team may want to enhance the overall experience by doing thins such as:
- Adding more indoor hitting practices
- Registering for additional tournaments, beyond the minimum of 5
- Assisting with some travel expenses related to registering for a travel tournament outside of the Metro
- Purchasing additional equipment, softballs, scorebooks...etc.
There are few ways to help help costs related to this experience?
Your coach will ask you to partake in fundraising opportunities throughout the season. First and foremost, the fundraisers are designed to cover the following:
- Tournament Entry Fees
- Additional Indoor Practices
- Team Equipment
However, with a strong effort, fundraising can also be used to do things such as purchase optional apparel, cover meals on travel...etc. You are encourages to take advantage of these opportunities to help the overall success of your team.
Local businesses are critical to the success of any competitive sports programs. You are encouraged to seek out local business owners and offer them the opportunities to become a team sponsor. It's a relatively low cost for them and they recognize the impact this has on their community. These are directly applied to team funds and used for any team expenses.
- In the rare situations where fundraising and sponsorships don't fully cover costs, your coach may discuss options to pay out of pocket to cover expenses.
While it is an overwhelmingly rewarding experience, there is a time commitment for both you and your daughter to participate on a competitive team to be sure. A typical season may look like the following:
- The season runs from August to July each year. Coaches will typically end the season prior the end of June to allow for families to plan vacations and to help the team prepare for tryouts.
- On average, you an expect two 1 1/2 to 2 hour practices a week during the fall portion of the fall season.
- Depending on experience, your team may enroll in a fall league and/or tournaments. The number of tournaments will vary based on the coach and discussions he/she has with their team, but 2-3 tournaments is pretty typical.
- Outdoor practices typically continue until it is too cold outside. typically late October/Early November).
- If your team chooses to purchase additional indoor hitting practice, these typically occur in December - February timeframe. Your coach will discuss with the team and also communicate if these are optional or required. We have seen teams that do not purchase any additional time and others that add up to 1 a week during this duration.
- The UGRA contracted indoor hitting practices typically begin in early February and last up through Spring Break. Typically they are once a week with an occasional twice a week practice. Your coach will more than likely view these as required practices.
- Outdoor practices begin once the weather is warm enough to be outside. Similar to the fall, teams are provided field usage for two practices a week.
- Some coached may decide to book additional field time or hitting practice at the complex. Typically, this is optional.
- Typically you will play in anywhere from 3-7 tournaments in the Spring/Summer. This will vary by team and be based on appetited to play, funding and team availability.
- Leagues and tournaments are played almost solely the weekends A league day may include two games. Tourney weekend typically consist of a minimum of 4 games across the two days.
Outside of practices and games you can also expect the following time commitments:
It will be vital for teams that wish to enhance their experience that all players do their part to help fundraise.
- Team Support
Managing a team takes quite of bit of cooperation and support. You can help out in many ways to make it a successful season. Items may include but are not limited to:
- Being a head coach
- Being an assistant coach available for all practices and games
- Keeping the scorebook or running the Game Changer App
- Helping with drills if a coach asks
- Planning social events for the team (e.g. places to eat after a hard fought tourney day
UGRA boasts one of the best complexes in the state. We feel we are second to none and pride ourselves on our volunteer efforts to manage a best in class complex while keeping costs to a minimum. In order or achieve this each year, we rely on everyone to do their part. Volunteering takes form the following ways:
- Ongoing maintenance
This includes day to day items such as weed-eating, picking up litter, mowing, emptying trash..…etc. A lot of this work can be done while yo're waiting for your daughter is at practice.
It also includes opening and closing of the complex during the spring and late fall respectively.
- Tournament coverage
- UGRA hosts four tournaments each year that teams are responsible for covering. This includes field prep prior to a tournament weekend, field crew during a tournament, concession and stand duty during a tournament. Your coach will be involved in determining which tournament your team is expected to cover. It is the responsibly of the team to ensure all shifts are covered, and as part of the team you will be expected to do your part.
- UGRA will also rent fields on various weekends as another revenue stream. We have the same roles available in these tournaments on occasion, so we look to our UGRA families to help with this effort.
All of these tournaments are the key source of revenue for the complex. The allow us to repair or purchase equipment, repair or replace won out complex items such as (batting cages netting, windscreens...etc.), and pay operational expenses such as water, electricity, garbage and all the other items associated with running the complex.