COVINGTON, Ga- As we continue through the bulk of the summer, the temperature isn’t the only thing blazing.
Travel softball is perhaps the most eminent summer sport at the amateur level as programs look to distinguish themselves amongst the elite of Georgia’s talented and competitive softball scene.
Perhaps no team has been hotter than the Diamond Sports Academy (DSA) Stars 12u fast pitch softball team. With a combined spring/summer record of 46-9-2, the DSA Stars began to peak at the right time as they are undefeated in their past three tournaments, capped off by being crowned the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Class B State Champions in June – even playing in and being crowned the champions of their most recent tournament in which they played up at the 14u level.
The old adage, “nothing worth having comes easy” is prevalent when it comes to this team as, despite the plethora of success, the Stars have had to battle through some adversity along the way.
Although plagued by injuries early in the season, the DSA Stars often did well enough to place in tournaments, but they never seemed to get over the hump. That is, however, until they won their first tournament which eventually propelled them to a remarkable run.
Usually teams will get hit by the injury bug and they’ll begin to shut down and accept their fate, but this team chose to combat that mentality and work harder to ensure success.
“All throughout our current campaign, injuries and conflicts have led us to the most strange season I’ve encountered as a coach in recent memory,” recalls head coach Scott Standard. “I adopted the motto of STARSTRONG for this year and we’ve truly put this to a test.”
One of the key adjustments that they made to overcome the slew of injuries was to, as Standard put it, “go old school.” Standard and his staff which also consists of coaches: Doug Brown, Stacey McDonald, Jamie Pearson and Jay Pearson, began to center practices around accustoming their players to different positions and really challenging them to compete and earn their positions.
“When they try out for their middle school teams, they will be able to try out for any position,” he said.
All hands are surely on deck for the DSA Stars on the field, but a lot of the success on the field begins off the field, and the production on the field doesn’t overshadow the program’s emphasis on the important values of life.
“We have enjoyed success on the field, but remain steady in our beliefs of family and school come first ahead of softball which is still a game,” Standard stated.
The DSA Stars rooted from a vision implemented by Gregg Cowan. Cowan, along opened up Diamond Sports Academy – a fully functional training facility located in Covington which consists of hitting, pitching, catching and fielding training for baseball and softball, as well as strength training and exposure camps, in the back of Cowan’s business office and thus the DSA Stars were born.
It doesn’t stop there, though.
Anyone familiar with the world of travel softball knows just how expensive it can get. The DSA stars have put an emphasis on making playing for their program highly affordable. Standard and Stacey McDonald, whom he considers his co-manager, has been instrumental in this process.
“Numerous hours each week are spent organizing fundraisers, schedules, etc. and each year have been fortunate enough to offer families a 100% funded opportunity through sponsorships and too many fundraisers to name,” he says.
“If you make it affordable, folks sure are more happy and apt to abide.”
Versatility, togetherness, as well as a constantly growing sense of mental toughness have all been vital in the DSA Stars 12u fast pitch softball team not only on, but off the field. Throughout all the injuries encountered, close games, and sometimes playing at the 14u level, the 12u Stars have displayed unwavering persistence as they continue to prevail and build their momentum throughout the season.
The DSA Stars will look to ride this wave of momentum straight into Myrtle Beach, SC as they participate in the Jennie Finch Experience at the Ripken Complex at the end of July. Standard and his team looks forward to competing, having fun as well as having the opportunity to meet arguably the most famous softball player in Finch.
“We realize the days of high school ball and beyond for some are on the horizon, but I’ve learned to do the best to create memories while we can,” Standard said.
“I applaud not only our supporters, but also any player or parent out there who dedicates themselves on a daily basis to the kids (who) our future!”