By Stacy Case
The Coral Springs Panthers 14U Travel Softball Club is just about to take to the field again and, this Fall, the team is looking stronger than ever. Head Coach/Manager Ron Hoyt has some impressive tools in his arsenal and intends to maximize his players’ abilities as much as possible in order to keep up the program’s successful tradition. (The Panthers also have 10U, 12U and 16U programs that have historically done well.) And this season is only getting underway. “It’s early to tell but I feel that our pitching and catching staff has improved since last year; the girls are working really hard at their positions,” says Ron, whose Panthers play home games at both Cypress Park and Betti Stradling Park in Coral Springs when they play host.
And even at the professional level, athletes need to constantly improve their game. The Panthers follow suit. From the fundamentals to the most elite skills required to perform at a high level on the softball field, Ron is a firm believer in having non-complacent players. “In order to keep our success going, the girls need to focus at every practice and not let down one minute,” he adds. “They know they have to work hard for playing time and that nothing is handed to them.” He continues to feel that “everything is earned.”
Their Fall season, which runs until December, is shorter than that of their typical Spring/Summer one. Ron says the Fall is the most opportune time to prepare for the more intense competition that is accompanied during their traditional play from January through August. “The Fall schedule is like our Spring Training; we do our tryouts, play in some local tournaments and spend quite a bit of time getting as ready as possible for what will start in January,” he says.
Fall Ball is also a good dress rehearsal for what the Panthers may once again face at the State tournament and at the National games (held in Ft. Myers and Myrtle Beach, SC, this past Spring/Summer respectively). It sure seems to be a work in progress for Ron and his travel softball contingent, as they endure intense practices nearly 13 hours per week. They work on the many different facets of the game: Hitting, fielding, catching, pitching and running on a consistent basis…Ron keeps a close watch on every one of them. “I expect each of my players to give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” adds Ron. “I need them to stay dedicated, work hard and hustle when they’re on that field.”
This season, the 14U Panthers will be playing against teams from around the tri-county area as well as teams from other parts of Florida. Aside from the girls’ accomplishments on the field, Ron also has his sights set high on the lessons that this level of play can yield for his players. “The best thing these girls can do is approach this game just like life,” he explains. “Being competitive in sports teaches the athlete how to compete in school and work also, and that you have to earn your position every single day.”