Our journey to where we are today began first in a meeting called by Jeff shortly after the conclusion of the local Little League team season. Jeff met with the players and parents of some of the local teams and explained his vision of having a local travel baseball team that would compete in tournaments throughout Arizona.
As a result of that meeting a team consisting of twelve young men, ages 10 to 12 years of age, became the Bad News For You Bears baseball team. The coaching staff was assembled and practices began. The team practiced almost daily until our first tournament in September. Prior to that we also played scrimmage games with local teams in the area in an attempt to gauge our progression.
Prior to the tournament, Jeff has been in contact with other coaches who had been involved with travel baseball in the area, and they had advised him that it would be difficult for a new team to have success, and to expect poor results until the team became more experienced.
The first tournament in Gilbert, AZ, bore testament to those warnings. The weather was very hot, and the players were not used to tournament baseball play and the results were as expected. But the one bright spot was that the team competed, and with the exception of the first game, actually had a chance to win a game or two. As it was, the Bears finished the tournament with no wins and three losses.
The team regrouped and continued a vigorous schedule of practice and prepared for the second tournament in mid October. It was obvious that the practices and coaching was beginning to show results and they boys were prepared for a better showing. As it turned out, they exceeded expectations. The team won it's first game of the tournament, then lost the second in a very close matchup. But with superior pitching and excellent fielding and hitting, the team went on to win the next three games and took the tournament title. In USSSA baseball tournaments, each member of the winning team gets a "super bowl" type gold ring. This was a major accomplishment and the coaches and players agreed that the Bears could compete.
In mid November, the Bears played their third tournament against some excellent teams, and the inexperience showed and they won only two games out of four played. Even with the losses, the team had a chance to compete for the tournament title, but fell short in the last game.
In December, the team signed up for a tournament in the Chandler/Mesa area of the valley and started off by losing the first two games. But, after being assigned to the Silver bracket, the team rallied and won the next two contests and took the silver medal.
In February, the games were in the West valley of Phoenix and the Bears began the tournament by winning the first two games. Heading into Sunday, the boys were pitted against the number one rated team in the division, in the tournament semi-finals. Although they competed, in the end the boys fell short and were eliminated. But the team record was two wins and one loss for the weekend and the experience of playing a higher ranked team was excellent experience.
In March of 2017, a tournament was scheduled that contained several teams from other states. There were teams from Washington, California, Texas, and New Mexico that played. The BNFY Bears started off by playing a team from San Marcos, CA and lost a close one. The second game was against a team from Rio Rancho, NM and the team won that game by a sizable margin. The third matchup, in the semi-finals, they played an excellent team from El Paso, TX and lost a back and forth battle, eventually being eliminated by the eventual tournament champion.
By April, the team was a group of hardened veteran ball players. They knew they could play against anyone and had the mindset that they could win any tournament, against any opponent, they entered. In April, the team played a tournament at Big League Dreams complex in Gilbert, and were ready. The boys played three higher ranked teams and won all four games for their second tournament title and second gold ring. The team was impressive and it was fair to say, they had arrived.
In May, the team traveled to the West valley at a park in Peoria and again were matched up against teams, some of whom were ranked above them. But there was no stopping them now and again, the team won all four games, beating the number one team in the division 7 to 3. A third gold ring. At the end of the tournament, the team was ranked second in the state in power points, behind only the team they had just played and defeated. This was the team's last tournament until the start of the new season, and they had progressed from a bunch of young men with a hope of winning all the way to the top of the division.
As a result of the two tournament wins, shortly after the final tournament, the team was notified that due to their success, they were being promoted to the next higher division in their age group. A tremendous accomplishment by any measure.