Every few years it seems that people raise questions about fees and bingo, as they relate to the benefits of being a “Tornado” parent. We would all agree that bingo is not the most pleasant experience but it is the means through which we afford to send our players all around the United States to play softball. The fees are relatively low compared to other comparable programs; programs that offer a true “travel ball” experience.
Let me try to put things in perspective for most of you parents of players. Before the California Tornadoes organization was born, high school softball sections at the end of the spring season were dominated by teams from the Sacramento and Stockton.
Why? Because these were the only areas in our section that had legitimate summer programs. These programs allow the best players to play against the best players. In Turn, these players are able to advance their skills more rapidly because “if you don’t step up you get run over”! The demands competitive softball put on a player are many and diverse but the results are readily observable over the course of a season, or several seasons.
Since the birth of the Tornadoes, Fairfield High School has produced nine (9) consecutive league champions and captured three (3) section titles and two (2) second place finishes. In two of these years, the third place finisher from the MEL has beaten the number one seed in the tournament and one year we had three of the top five teams in the section from the MEL. In the recent MEL, all-league selection meeting, eight of the fifteen selections were Tornadoes’ players.
What is a program comparable to California Tornadoes Softball? Comparable programs are: California Breeze (Sacramento), R & R Gold (Stockton), Strikkers (San Jose), Salinas Storm (Salinas), and similar programs.
All of these programs, along with the California Tornadoes, have the goal every summer of trying to qualify for national tournaments (ASA, AFA, and now several other minor programs). Fees to play in these other organizations often exceed $1000 for the summer and $500, or more, for the fall.
The level of these fees varies with the age group because, just as in our organization, the younger players probably don’t travel quite much as the older girls. Our fees are generally less than half that of these organizations; instead we ask you to participate in our bingo fundraising program.
This allows you, as parents, to off-set the cost of your child playing in a quality program by fundraising on a periodic basis. This occurs much too often for many of you but I want to reassure you that the group of 10-12 people that participate in bingo in excess of 40 weeks out of year, do so because of their commitment to the softball program and to the physical and mental skills that become a part of your child’s tool chest, as they mature into young adults. This group of dedicated individuals has been an integral part of the growth of the California Tornadoes and, on the whole, is pleased with the resulting softball.
Bingo is the way we are able to offset the fees, often more than double, so that you don’t have to pay $1200-$1500 for your child to play in the summer. I know there are other organizations that have lower fees than our organization but one needs to ask the question as to their comparability. Sure, you can play for organization X, Y, or Z and only pay $300 for the season.
You will play only local tournaments, often against less skilled teams, and the development of your player (daughter) will no be as rapid as you had anticipated. If your daughter’s team happens to travel out of the area for an overnight, or several nights, stay, where does the money come from? Out of your pocket as a parent of course! For the Tornadoes, these funds are generated through bingo fund raising.
Your daughter’s transportation and lodging costs are paid by the Tornadoes because this is one of the places where bingo funds come in handy. Has your daughter ever attended a national tournament? The cost of such a trip is often in the neighborhood of $800-$1000 per team member. Bingo funds pay for these kinds of costs, along with the indoor hitting facility, team and specialized player equipment, player accident insurance and many other items.
Let me inform you of a problem that was encountered by a Stockton organization’s 12U team last summer. After paying their $1000 fees for the summer, the team qualified to attend ASA nationals. The parents were told they would have to pay for, or fund raise for, the travel and lodging costs to attend this tournament. They didn’t go!!
I know that some of you don’t feel the way that I do – bingo is a necessary evil to insure that all of our softball needs can be met without incurring additional, unexpected expenses. However, we, as members of the Board of Directors in collaboration with our coaches, are able to comfortably prepare our summer and fall schedules, knowing that the funds for our tournaments and trips to national tournaments, or ther notable tournaments, will be funded without asking you for any more money. Unless a coach has neglected to budget for an unforeseen trip, is which case these excess budgetary expenses must be met or the trip cannot be taken.
The bottom line is simply this: In exchange for 50-60 hours of your time, your daughter is able to receive up to approximately $1000 worth of softball benefits, during the summer. When you break this down into is least common denominator, it reads like this: For one (1) hour a week, your daughter can travel almost anywhere in the United States to play softball. Quite a bargain!!!!