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NFCA Convention Caucuses Highlight Event's Second Day

(Photo courtesy of NFCA Twitter)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Things were off and running at the 2019 NFCA National Convention on the second official day of the annual event on Thursday. Among several other events throughout the day that featured coaches from around the country, multiple caucuses took place Thursday, including Division I, II, III and junior college meetings. At those caucuses, rules, changes and technical parts of the game were discussed between the coaches in attendance.

Also taking place on Thursday were caucuses related to softball at the high school and travel ball levels, as well as at the international level. Below is a brief synopsis of what occurred in those meetings.

NFCA High School/Travel Ball Caucus

Hundreds of high school and travel softball coaches flooded into an event hall at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. to talk about the current state of the game at their respective levels. A hot topic of conversation focused on changes that were recently made to pitching rules in the college game and in travel ball.

A change in college rules now allows for pitchers to have their back foot off of the pitching rubber. Dissimilarly, high school rules allow for pitchers to step back behind the mound when pitching.

The high school rule has also been adopted by USA Softball. USA Softball CEO Craig Cress said Thursday that the rule was changed because youth programs should be on the same page as high school programs.

Despite the change that USA Softball made, USSSA has not changed its rules and PGF has adopted college rules.

NFCA Travel Ball representative Kevin Shelton made a statement Thursday about the future of the rule at various levels of the sport.

“The world is heading toward one foot off the rubber,” Shelton said. “We’re heading toward a standard scenario across the board.”

NFCA International Caucus

While the High School/Travel Ball Caucus hosted hundreds of coaches on Thursday, the International Caucus had just six people in attendance to discuss the state of softball at the international level.

A major topic of conversation at the caucus focused on how to grow the game internationally. The consensus among the group generally related to the grassroots level of the sport and keeping international club teams local so that as many girls as possible can play softball within their communities.

Chris Sebren, USA Softball’s Director of National Teams, emphasized the importance of having local leagues internationally. He added that the current lack of local travel teams in the United States is damaging to the sport.

“We’re ruining programs and local opportunities because we’re taking kids from one city to play across the country,” Sebren stated during the International Caucus about how travel ball often operates in America.

Also present at the meeting was Sara Thompson, who is Little League International’s Director of Softball Development.

Thompson added, “We need to keep clubs as local as possible. It depletes the number of kids who would be playing at the local level when you take the best kids out of a local league. You don’t have the grassroots level when things don’t stay local in youth softball.”

The 2019 NFCA National Convention runs through Saturday.

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