Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
An Extreme Pride coach works with a player during pregame at the Spring Softball Showdown on Saturday, April 9, at Gordon Moore Park.
Girls on the Run is built from the fundamental philosophy of getting and keeping young ladies fit and healthy through athletics.
In the case of the Extreme Baseball and Softball Club, an organization based in Collinsville, athletics means softball and baseball.
“Girls on the Run is something we are very adamant about,” Alexa Becker, director of softball for Extreme, said. “Adamant about the whole experience and that this sport is more than just a sport, it’s purpose and with Girls on the Run focuses on health and getting girls active and getting them out here playing a sport or playing something they enjoy.”
Becker continued, “The gist of Girls on the Run is to provide an avenue for young ladies to be active and be healthy. The proceeds help that, they’re going to boost that, they’re going to help support what their mission is.”
On April 8-10 Gordon Moore Park in Alton played host to the Spring Softball Showdown, a tournament put on by Extreme with proceeds benefitting Girls on the Run.
Twenty-one teams, all from the Alton area, competed in classes ranging from 8U, 10U and 12U. There were a few 8U teams, 10 in the 10U division and 9 in the 12U bracket.
“We’re pushing the 21-team mark, so it is exciting for us. This is our first go-around for this tournament so we’re excited to impact these teams and these families and these young ladies on the experience we provide,” Becker said. “We’re about the experience and I think you can kind of see that in the way we run it here.”
Extreme had four of its own teams competing in the Showdown; two 10U and two 12U teams.
Gordon Moore Park was the perfect vehicle to showcase this type of tournament for Extreme.
“We love this facility,” Becker said. “We are super thankful that Alton ... made this feel like home and have provided us a family-like atmosphere.”
Gordon Moore Park and the surrounding area has plenty of perks for a family participating in this tournament.
“The surrounding area we love. There are attractions here, families can go off and get something to eat and the playground works out well with families with younger siblings,” Becker said. “The staff here always have concessions open, so we’re thankful that they’ve been great to us. We’ve built a really good relationship with them.”
Extreme is a softball and baseball club with more than 20 teams ranging in age from 8U to 18U with focus on the community.
“We are here to impact the community and make sure our families and kids in this area are given the right experience, that the families are taken care of, and that we have support for them in all facets, including financially,” Becker said.
Teaching kids to play the game the right way, teaching the right skills, teaching them respect for the game and teaching life skills such as communication and leadership is what Extreme is all about.
“We are an organization that tries to impact young girls and boys and put them on the right track for life. We want to impact them forever. That’s how we run it; that’s what we are all about,” Becker said.
When Extreme puts on a tournament, they do things a little differently than mainstream. For example, they place temporary fences within the confines of the field to give it a more softball feel.
Additionally, the umpire-in-charge is on-site in case there are any disputes. And they install a time limit of an hour and a half for each game.
“It’s a process; it’s not the win or loss. We’re going to compete hard, but we want the experience to be good and friendly,” Becker said.
Extreme has been an organization for 17 years. In 1999, co-founders Pete Hoffman and Brett Swip started with a softball team and have grown into more than 20 softball and baseball teams.
Extreme has four levels of competition starting with the junior level. Junior means young and in this case it is 7U and 8U. They do not play a lot of tournaments.
“We teach them the right way. We have a path for them, as we do for all age groups. It is like a school teacher provides a roadmap and they provide you what your kid needs to know at the next level and that is what we do in our program at 8U,” Becker said.
The second level is the development level, made up of 10U teams. They are going to practice more and attend more tournaments.
The third level is the competitive level. Made up of 14U and 15U teams, more tournaments will be played. They will travel a little. They will train a little harder and learn more in depth.
The fourth level is the elite level of 16U up to 18U teams. These teams will play at the highest level. They will play nationally. They have played in Colorado and California to play the best competition. Training is harder and more intense.
All four levels of the Extreme program are part of a roadmap that aims to increase in intensity and competition as the kids grow.
Becker was an Extreme athlete as a junior in the 16U level. She went on to play Division I softball at Murray State in Kentucky. She graduated last year and is now the director of softball for Extreme. She also coaches a group of 18U seniors, juniors and a few sophomores, preparing them for college.
Follow #AdVsports on Twitter