During our final week of the Fall Tryout Program, we will be running almost 140 players through drills and games designed to highlight their athleticism, baseball skills and IQ, so that the final decision on the proper team placement for each player in 2020-2021 can be determined.
We understand that this can be a stressful time for players (and parents) alike. And this year, in particular, is especially hard for everyone (including the coaches), as there are simply too many players trying out for not enough spots. As we reduce from four teams to three teams at 14U, it is a mathematical certainty that we will not have spots for some players who were in our program last year. At 13U, we have 86 players trying out for 48 spots (the maximum number of spots we’ve ever offered at 13U), plus a lengthy waiting list of players that weren’t even able to get into the Fall Tryout Program before registration ended. In addition, there is intense competition to make our top teams at each age—last season’s 13A1 team was one of the most successful 13A1 teams we have ever had, and the rising 13U group has players coming into the program this year from numerous successful 12A and 12B teams. Making any team this year, perhaps more than ever before, should be considered a significant accomplishment for your player.
In any event, no matter what happens over the next 10 days, please keep in mind that team placement this fall not only doesn’t define this group of players as people, it certainly doesn’t reach any final conclusions on them as baseball players. Players grow, both as baseball players and physically, at different paces. For 14U players—if you are unhappy with your final team placement—please know that many past NTF A2 and B players have made our top 15U tournament team the next year and/or gone on to successful high school and even college baseball careers. Indeed, in each of the past two years, the players on our 14A2 and 14B teams have had an amazing level of success in being placed on New Trier High School teams—truly, it’s been an incredible showing that no one, anywhere, has duplicated. For 13U players—if you are unhappy with your final team placement, work hard over the next year and show the coaches you deserve to be on a higher team. If you do, you will have a chance to move up next season, as there is often movement between 13U and 14U—at that age players are growing and developing rapidly and the field size increases considerably. While true at all 13U levels, that is particularly true with the 13A2 team—our 13A2 coaches are outstanding and the team plays 13A baseball, and, while it is unlikely to be the case this year, there have been many other years where multiple players were moved from 13A2 to 14A1 based on their performance on the field. That means, of course, that there have been many other years where multiple 13A1 players were moved down to 14A2—so conversely, if you do make the 13A1 team, it’s a really bad idea to get complacent.
These tryouts, then, are merely a snapshot in time, no more and no less.
With that, some thoughts on the process:
Our final evaluations for the 2020-2021 season will take place from Monday, September 21, 2020 through Saturday, September 26, 2020.
As you know, our schedule this fall has been uniquely influenced by the state of the pandemic. Similar to the approach we took throughout the fall, we have grouped each player for the final week into one of five groups—three at 13U, and two at 14U. On Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, each of the five groups will play in a controlled scrimmage against a different group. Then, on Thursday and Friday, each group will undergo a set of final evaluations together, at which all players are run through different stations designed to test their hitting, fielding (including catching, if applicable), pitching (if applicable), and baserunning, and graded accordingly, as a final check on what our coaches have seen from the players previously. The full schedule of assignments, locations, and times for those Monday through Friday sessions have been posted on the website.
Finally, on Saturday, we will have a final set of scrimmages. Saturday scrimmage rosters, times, and locations will be posted on the website following the Thursday and Friday evaluation sessions.
The Saturday scrimmages are handled differently than any of the other scrimmages you have seen so far. The most obvious difference is that, usually, not every player is invited to the Saturday scrimmages. So—most importantly—please understand that an invitation to a Saturday scrimmage (or lack thereof) is not indicative of any final placement, and players are cautioned not to draw any conclusions from who is or is not invited.
Since no matter how often we say that, players leap to conclusions about what the Saturday scrimmage rosters mean anyway, let us explain that point a bit further. For the most part, players are invited back because our coaches want one more look at them to determine a final placement, and players are not invited back if our coaches feel they have enough information and are already able to determine a final placement for them. But that is not always the case, and there a myriad of “micro” reasons we invite certain players back. Just as one example, in past years, we have often invited back some of the best players in the program because we want to see how other players still competing to make the top team perform against our best players. The truth is that many players not called back for the final night will make teams (some of them the top teams at an age), and many players called back for the final night will not make teams.
For all sessions, players should arrive at the field no later than 30 minutes before the start of their session. The sessions will start promptly at their appointed times, and there will be no additional time for warming up. If a player knows that they have to miss one of the final week events, the player should notify us at email@example.com. For many players, this final week can be determinative, so we strongly suggest players attend all sessions they are invited to.
Since we strongly believe in transparency, the entire week’s sessions are open to the public, and parents are welcome to stay and watch--we just ask that parents please not coach or talk to any of the kids during the tryouts. (Yes, that really has happened).
Number of Teams
As previously indicated, we will be selecting three 14U teams this season, our usual number at that level, and playing them as 14A1, 14A2, and 14B teams. Our 14U teams will be stack-ranked. This year, given the unprecedented demand and the talent level of the 13U group, we have decided to again take the most teams we have previously taken at that age—four. We will be fielding 13A1 and 13A2 teams, as well as 2 13B teams.
Our 13A1 and 13A2 teams will be stack-ranked; our 13B teams will be split evenly on a “depth chart” basis. To those who may fear it—we are not turning one good 13B team into two bad ones this year. We acknowledge that we have made that mistake before—not on purpose, of course—but we have also learned our lesson, and have been extremely careful with the decision this year. We expect all four 13U teams to be strong.
Given the state of the pandemic, at this extremely early juncture, it is difficult to know whether the LSFBL, MSBL, or some other league will even exist next season. Moreover, the LSFBL, which has generally been considered the weaker of the two leagues, is considering significant changes at the 14A and 13A level for next season in order to entice programs such as ours to stay/return to the league. For these reasons, we have yet to make a decision as to what leagues our teams will be playing in. Rest assured that we will find the most appropriate and challenging league for each of those teams, and we will announce our plans as soon as we know them. More specifically, based on its performance at 13U last season, we intend our top 14U team to be quite strong, and to challenge them heavily. We also intend our 14A2 team to play in an A league, and we expect to play our 14B team against competition similar to the competition it faced last year. Similarly, based on the performance of the community’s 12U teams, we expect our top 2 13U teams to be quite good, and we plan to challenge them significantly as well—both will definitely play A baseball, although there is a good chance they will play in different leagues or divisions. Finally, we expect to play our 13B teams against competition similar to the competition our 13B faced last year, and for both of them to be challenged but successful at that level.
All three of our 14U teams will go to Omaha (if the tournament is played), and during the same week. Furthermore, because the youth 12U teams were not able to go to Cooperstown last year, we currently intend to find a significant out-of-state trip for our 13U group as well (a trip which may also be to Omaha). In each case, we will reserve a block of rooms for the tournament, but payment for those rooms (and all other personal/family expenses) will be a player’s individual responsibility. The other costs of the trip (tournament fee, coaching expenses) are already included in our all-inclusive dues.
Each level (13U and 14U) is assigned a dedicated team of Feeder coaches and senior IBA evaluators that have spent an aggregate 150+ hours evaluating the players at each level all fall in the Fall Tryout Program and will be determining team placement for each player. All placement decisions are made by those independent coaches and evaluators—while NTF Board members without players in the program may be present at the evaluations and during the team selection process, even they will serve only as proctors to ensure the integrity of the evaluation and selection process and not have any substantive input in the team placement decisions.
Given the length of the Fall Tryout Program, 13U players (and any 14U players new to NTF) will be evaluated exclusively based on their performance in it, and not based on their performance in or coach evaluations from other programs or in any private lessons or other non-NTF programs they may have participated in. That is because, as we have repeatedly said previously, our belief is that everyone should get a fresh start upon entry into NTF and while in our program.
Returning 14U players have an extensive, year-long body of work in front of our coaches. They will be evaluated primarily based on that body of work—that is, based on their overall performance at the 13U level for NTF in the prior year, and the evaluation of their NTF coach. That said, in close cases, their performance in the Fall Tryout Program, and in the upcoming final week of evaluations, is often a significant and potentially decisive factor—and that will definitely be the case in some cases this year.
Since the focus of our program is development, we do not use any official or unofficial statistics in the evaluation and team selection process. (We know many don't believe us, but it really is true). In the event that one of our 13U players is competing for a spot against a player new to the program, the tie goes to our returning player. Please keep in mind, though, that it has to be a tie—as NTF is a meritocracy, a 14U player new to the program who is clearly better than a returning player will be placed higher.
Teams will be posted on the website within a few hours of the conclusion of the final scrimmage sessions on Saturday, September 26, 2020.
After Team Selection
As team selection is in some sense inherently subjective, and only 12 players can make our top teams at each level, we know that there will be many players who are disappointed with their placement. We can tell you that our coaches and evaluators try extremely hard to get it right, and spend hours and hours looking at and discussing the players and determining proper team placement. They really sweat it and care a tremendous amount—and for what it is worth, while no one is infallible, in answer to an anonymous survey we have conducted after each of the last three full seasons, the parents of less than 5% of the players believed, in hindsight (i.e. having seen the year play out), that their player had been incorrectly placed. In light of that, we always ask that parents abide by the “24 hour” rule, and not contact any of the coaches, evaluators or NTF Board members with respect to your player’s placement until 24 hours following the team postings.
Once the 24 hour period has passed, if you have a question or wish to discuss your player’s placement, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon receipt of your email, we will put you in touch with the appropriate coach, who will be happy to speak with parents and players to explain a given player’s placement and discuss what our evaluators see as his or her strengths and weaknesses. Just please understand that, once posted, absent some clerical error, the team placements are not going to be changed, and so all questions should be directed towards making your son or daughter a better player. If parents and players approach the conversation that way, our coaches will be happy to talk to you for as long as you want.
We know this can be a difficult time for players who are disappointed with the results of the team selection and placement process, but we have found that a 24 hour “cooling off” period for players, parents, and coaches, tends to lead to better and more constructive discussions. As a result, please understand that if you choose to reach out prior to then, our coaches will not speak to any until the 24 hours have passed.
Registration And Payment
Each player will have until Monday, September 28, 2020 at 11:59 P.M. to pay in full on the website to hold his or her spot. Accepting a spot means agreeing to comply with NTF’s commitment policy, which is available on the website now and will be available for further review as part of the website registration process. For the entire 2020-2021 season, dues will be an all-inclusive $2,875 for all players.
In fairness to players who we have cut, and particularly this year given the sheer volume of those cuts, we will enforce the 48 hour deadline strictly and offer uncommitted spots to players who were not originally offered team placements.
Good luck to all of the players trying out!!!!
Drew Cardonick, on behalf of
New Trier Feeder Baseball
13A1 exploded for 8 runs in the 2nd inning yesterday to cruise past the Park Ridge Jr. Hawks and win the LSFBL championship, 12-1.
As his been the case all season, it was a team effort for Coach Kosinski's squad. Every single player reached base or knocked in a run, and 13A1 was paced by Ben Toft's 3-3 with 2 doubles, Sam Newlands's 2 hits and 3 RBI, and Chris Donaldson's huge 2nd inning bases loaded hit that broke the game wide open. On the mound, C.J. Donnelly was terrific, pitching a complete game one-hitter.
In winning NTF's 10th title in the last four years, 13A1 Blue finished a spectacular 26-3 season, highlighted by a 168-40 run differential in league play, two thrashings of arch rival Mundelein, and tournament wins over Top Tier North, Rhino Baseball, Windy City Black, Stoppers Black, and Warriors Baseball Black. Congrats to Coach Kosinski and all of his players on a job well done.
While we celebrate our champions today, to us success is about more than wins and losses, and so we would be remiss at not pointing out the successes of our other teams. While 13A1 was the only victor on Sunday, 14A1 played top seeded Mundelein to a 2-2 tie until the bottom of the 6th before falling. On Saturday, #2 seeded 14B had the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the 7th of its semifinal before coming up just short. 14A2 battled to a 6-8 season as our 2nd team in the division, a terrific accomplishment. 13A2 rallied from a difficult start to win four straight in mid-July. And each of our split 13B teams won playoff games and led late in their second playoff games before ultimately falling to high seeds.
As is always the case, the most indelible memories of the week for those of us that run the program, however, are off the field. The number of kids who turned up to root their friends on other teams on was astounding. When we said at the start of the year that this was a community, one in which all 101 of our players was equally important to us, we meant it--and all of us who run this program are so happy to see the kids, over and over again, support each other, both on and off the field. To us, that's what community baseball is all about. Particularly in these difficult times, we hope that we were able to provide at some joy and distraction in what has been a long, hard year in the world.
Once again, thanks for the honor of entrusting the development of your kids to us this season. We hope you are as proud of them as we are.
Drew Cardonick, President
New Trier Feeder Baseball
The 15U Blue team will be coached by Trey Frahler.
The coach of the 15U Green team will be announced shortly.
The New Trier Feeder Baseball Program (“Feeder”) is a nonprofit, “best in class”, year-round training program and experience devoted solely to developing and preparing players to play baseball at the highest levels for New Trier High School and Loyola High School. We believe that our program exceeds the quality of those programs offered by the best “pay for play” organizations in the area, while still permitting our athletes to play with their friends in their communities and engage in other sports. In addition, because the vast majority of our coaches have either played at or coached at New Trier, we are able to, and do, specifically train our players on the systems and skills that will be needed to be successful at either of those schools.
The 13U/14U NTF Program consists of five parts: (1) our Fall Tryout Preparation Program; (2) our Tryouts/Team Selection Process in late September/early October; (3) our Offseason Training from January through March; (4) our Spring House League Program in April and May; and (5) our Spring/Summer Travel Seasons from April through July. Full details on those programs can be found at "Our Travel Program."
For the 2019 season, NTF created a brand new, comprehensive 15U Program, which is being repeated for the 2020 season. Details can be found on the 15U Program page.
President, New Trier Feeder Baseball
Phone: (847) 242-9421
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