What The Addition Of The California Commotion Means For NPF
When the 2020 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) season begins in May, the league will have both a fresh look and a new team.
On Wednesday, NPF officials announced the addition of the California Commotion for the 2020 campaign, which marks the first time since 2005 that the league has possessed a team from The Golden State.
Owned by entrepreneur and UCLA graduate Damon Zumwalt, the Commotion will feature Deb Hartwig, the NPF's former Events Director, as its general manager. The team will essentially replace the USSSA Pride in the NPF in 2020, which is great news for the now six-team American professional softball league that boasts an abundance of international players. USSSA announced its decision to part ways with the NPF back in September after serving as an affiliate team for 11 seasons.
"Adding a West Coast team to the NPF is such a proud moment for the league, and doing it in a year where softball will also have the Olympic spotlight shining upon it, is special," NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf said Wednesday in a league statement. "This is a capable ownership in Damon Zumwalt, with a passionate commitment to the sport of softball and the players who play it. I am sure Damon and his assembled staff will put together a highly competitive team to represent the deep-rooted success that has always lived in West Coast softball."
According to Hartwig, the Commotion's presence in California makes sense for the league because of the softball fandom and high-quality talent that exists there.
"Southern California is the hotbed of softball, so there are plenty of players that are from (California) and currently live (in California) that we will try to attract to our team," Hartwig told Softball America in a phone interview. "They don’t have to have lived in California, but our initial push for players will be players that are from (California) and/or currently live (in California)."
Though the Commotion will operate out of Los Angeles, Hartwig says the team will not have a home field in 2020. Instead, its home will be throughout the state, which is a strategy that will work with the NPF's new scheduling format for the coming season. Announced in August, the new format will feature a series-event model that is designed to feature multiple teams competing at any given time in a series at one location.
"We’re in Los Angeles. That’s where the owner resides, I reside and the head coach will reside," added Hartwig. "We’ll host in California and represent the entire state."
Hartwig—who informed Softball America that one series-event is already slated for the Commotion to host in California and another in Wisconsin during the 2020 campaign—believes the league's new scheduling model will allow her team's players to have more flexibility with their schedules.
"With the inception of the new schedule format for the 2020 season, we can have a player that lives in Florida meet us in Chicago as well as our California players flying into Chicago," Hartwig said. "It’s just going to be a plane ride for everybody involved."
Looking ahead to the Commotion's inaugural NPF season, Hartwig has high hopes for the league's newest team.
"The main hope for the team for 2020 is to come out and compete and represent California," Hartwig said. "And if at all possible, we'd like to take the championship."