WPPA Travel Softball
2020 marked the beginning of our all-star travel softball program! Starting off with two teams, one in 10U and one in 12U, Welles launched its travel program, which faces off against other North and Northwest side parks, such as Dunham, Gompers, Hamlin and Oz. All WPPA all-star travel softball games are played in Chicago, and the teams will also play in at least one tournament in Chicagoland, Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin.
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WPPA All-Star Softball Q&A
What is the difference between Travel softball and WPPA All-Star Softball?
In the most official definition, travel softball generally refers to a club or team that expects 100% participation from its players, with no other softball team activities conflicting. WPPA All-Star Softball is a hybrid model that is coordinated with our House softball program. The players on our All-Star softball teams are expected to be full time members of our House softball program, too. Players are generally not allowed to miss house activities (practice or games) – and because the house and all-star programs are run by WPPA, scheduling is always arranged to eliminate such conflicts.
Practically speaking, full-time travel softball programs are designed for the most advanced of players. They typically cost 2 to 3 times what an All-Star program costs, practice 2-3 times a week and employ professional coaches.
What are the advantages of playing for WPPA All-Star vs Travel Softball program?
The decision to play travel or WPPA All-Star softball is an individual one, and for each player they may determine one program is better for their specific needs. The WPPA All-Star program is generally a better fit for the following situations:
- A player taking their first crack in an advanced softball program. If your daughter is a stronger player, looking to get more practice and game action with other players that are similarly talented. The WPPA All-Star program is that perfect first step as it will allow the player to further explore their commitment and love for the game.
- Families looking for less “travel” from their child’s softball teams. Most full-time travel programs register and play in tournaments throughout the spring and summer seasons, which typically take place in the Chicago suburbs or surrounding states. WPPA All-Stars participate in the Northside All-Star Softball (NASL) league with other neighborhood parks like Hamlin, Oz and Gompers. You’ll never have to travel more than 7 miles to play in an NASL league game.
- More balanced competition. The four current WPPA All-Star teams have a combined record of 12-12 this season in the NASL league. These games are very competitive because all participants follow the same rules (ie – must play for a house program, not allowed to play any other travel softball program, etc…). Most of the Travel tournaments draw from the very best teams across Illinois and surrounding states, which can lead to many non-competitive games.
Why are eligibility ages different between House and All-Star Softball?
Welles Park’s House program follows an age eligibility that aligns with public and private school years (Sept 1). Most travel and all-star programs however follow an eligibility standard that is aligned to birth years. During our initial 2020 season for the All-Star program we followed eligibility that aligned with our house requirements, while our competing teams in the NASL had moved their eligibility to January 1. Thus, starting with the 2021 season Welles also moved its age eligibility to align with the other parks. Here is the current age eligibility for the upcoming 2022 season:
- 14U – any child born in 2007 or 2008
- 12U – any child born in 2009 or 2010
- 10U – any child born in 2011 or 2012
Is Welles considering the creation of an 8U All-Star division?
It is the strong desire of the WPPA to continue to increase opportunities for House and All-Star softball across all of our age divisions. In 2020 we started with just two All-Star teams and we expect to have 6 teams in 2022. Currently, there is not a viable league option available for an 8U All-Star team. We work regularly with the other NASL parks to monitor the growth of their programs and we expect that addition of an 8U program is still a couple of years away from being a realistic alternative for WPPA.
My daughter is a strong player moving to 10U house, but with a 2013 birth year. Can she participate in tryouts and be considered for the 2022 10U teams?
Currently the answer to that question is “no.” The price of having a successful program that many people want to participate in is that we will have to say “no” to many players. Currently we are expecting to have more than 130 people tryout for our 2022 teams, and will only be able to accept between 70-80 players.
If you do have a player that is a 2013 and feel strongly that they are a player capable of contributing competitively to our 10U travel team, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be monitoring registrations, specifically for what we project will be a 2012 birth-year team, and if registration numbers are lower than projected, we may expand age eligibility at that time.
My daughter is a very strong player, can I register her to try out in a higher age group than that for which she is currently eligible?
We ask that all players register for and attend tryouts in their age appropriate divisions only. In a very few cases, the coaches may jointly determine that a player is so advanced that they should play at a higher age level for the 2022 season. The coaches will make that determination jointly – and the player will not need to have attended the higher age tryouts to be considered.
We will keep the number of those “playing up” to a very small number, if any. We recognize that every time a girl plays up they take the spot away from someone at that age level.
Does every player have to attend tryouts in order to be considered for an All-Star team?
Any NEW player to the All-Star travel program must attend a tryout in order to be considered for a team. Current Warrior players are not required to attend tryouts (as their coaches will have had a season or more to observe their abilities), but it is highly recommended that they attend regardless. There is no promise or guarantee that current players will make a team for 2022, and the harsh reality is we expect some players may not. Attending and performing well during tryouts will be a positive differentiator for all players as we deliberate and make invitations for the 2022 teams.