Travel softball is a booming business. Organizations are expanding. So are tournaments, such as showcase events.
Parents know just how expensive it can be with some spending as much as $10-14,000 on the sport annually. The ultimate quest is a scholarship, a hard thing to obtain considering most college programs only offer partial ones.
The reaction, from parents, travel coaches and college coaches:
Joe Abraham, who is entering his seventh season as coach at Division II Hillsdale College (Mich.), emailed that he's "been a college coach for nearly 10 years and a travel ball and high school coach for nearly 10 years before that and it's good to see a story that is actually accurate about the scene."
Abraham annually attends the Atlanta Legacy, a 320-team showcase that I chronicled. The tournament attracts coaches, who go on scouting expeditions for players.
Others weighed in, too.
"I have been in travel softball going on my 12th season and most of what you wrote was spot on," said David Handler, a board member for the Tampa Mustangs, an organization that has been around 33 years and has won nine national titles.
Abraham said one of the reasons parents are willing to spend so much money is that the travel team becomes an extended family.
"Even though it might not make financial sense in the long run, it's a lot of fun and most parents and girls look back fondly upon the travel ball years," Abraham said. "My best friends to this day are some of the dads of the players I coached in travel ball back in 2005-08. Most of the team and parents stay close in touch."