LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ten programs were honored by their peers as 2023 ATEC/NFCA Travel Ball Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year, the Association announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Representing each of the NFCA’s 10 travel ball regions (new in 2023), these respective coaching staffs – South Shore Patriots (Region I), 18U Heartbreakers Gold National (Region II), 18U Virginia Glory National Willemssen (Region III), Platinum Elite 2K12 (Region IV), EC Bullets Midwest 2010 Amt (Region V), 16U Texas Glory (Naudin) (Region VI), Louisville Lady Sluggers 16U – VB (Region VII), EC Coyotes (Hitstreak, Hawks) (Region VIII), Mojo Pikas 18U (Region IX) and Charge Fastpitch (Region X) - for the ATEC/NFCA Travel Ball National Coaching Staff of the Year award, which will be announced on October 3.
In 2023, the Association realigned the travel ball membership into 10 regions from the original five due in part to the growth of the group’s membership. For a complete list of state representation, click HERE.
To be eligible, the program’s head coach must be a member and nominated. Winners were voted by member head coaches in each of their respective regions.
Region I – South Shore Patriots (MA)
Head Coach: Brian Agnew
Assistant Coaches: Anit Patel, Kevin Foley, Michel De Fontaine
In its first year as an organization, the coaches built a strong family-oriented team, made up of second-year 14U-B, giving them an opportunity to build confidence, learn the game and grow both on and off the field … Posted a 36-14-2 record with three tournament titles and several runner-up finishes … Semifinalist at the Fourth of July Firecracker College Showcase.
Region II – 18U Heartbreakers Gold National (MD)
Head Coaches: Wayne Persinger & Earl Edwards
Assistant Coaches: PJ Donaghue, Michaela Persinger
Captured the 2023 USA Softball Gold National Championship in Oklahoma City and finished the season with an 83-3-1 record, which included a 43-game winning streak … Guided a pitching staff that posted a 1.68 ERA and struck out 378 batters, while the offense recorded 118 doubles and 59 home runs in 56 contests during the summer … Won all eight games at the USA Softball nationals … Collected numerous tournament titles and also went undefeated during tournament bracket play.
Region III – 18U Virginia Glory National Willemssen
Head Coach: Suzy Willemssen
Assistant Coach: Kevin Bednoski
Achieved success on the field with an overall record of 34-16-2 … Posted a top-nine finish at the Tier 1 Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the nation’s toughest competition in the Power Pools of Triple Crown Nationals, Colorado Sparker, Rawlings/Easton Showcase Top 25 Veterans Showcase, Top Gun Maverick Division and others … An exceptional commitment to player development, eight seniors moved on to NCAA Division I programs … Coach Willemssen and Bednoski have made a profound impact on their players, instilling values such as discipline, teamwork and perseverance.
Region IV – Platinum Elite 2K12 (GA)
Head Coaches: Kevin King
Assistant Coaches: Todd Bowen, Jonathan Branyan, Justin Bridges, Jennifer Williamson
Heading into their third season, the coaching staff has developed a team that works hard and loves the game of softball … This past spring they posted a 21-19 record against great competition … Working with middle school aged athletes, the staff strives for players to get better through every practice with player progression their top priority.
Region V - EC Bullets Midwest 2010 Amt (IN)
Head Coach: Randi Amt
Assistant Coach: John Amt
In the first year with the 12U team, the staff directed the squad to a 70-43-2 mark, playing 12A, 12 open and 14 open … Through exemplary leadership, coach Amt teaches the players the game of life within the game of softball … A definition of a selfless coaches, she has sacrificed personally and financially to see the players be successful on and off the field
Region VI – 16U Texas Glory (Naudin)
Head Coach: Lee Velazquez
Assistant Coach: Derek Mitchael
2023 16U AFCS national champions .. Picked up titles at the 16U TFL Summer Championship (shared) and Texas Glory Summer Shootout … Collected a third-place finish at the 2023 16 U Fireworks National Power Pool.
Region VII – Louisville Lady Sluggers 16U - VB (MO)
Head Coach: Ashley VanBoxmeer
Assistant Coach: Andy Paalhar
First-year 16U team posted a 31-13-2 record … Captured third at the Triple Crown Nationals, 17th in the Colorado Sparkler Power Pool and a top-25 showing at the Alliance Nationals (tier 1) … Team 1 fall champions and a Top Club runner-up finish … Staff has a tremendous impact on the players as they play the game the right way, respect their teammates and the game, work hard and hold themselves accountable.
Region VIII - EC Coyotes (Hitstreak, Hawks) (CO)
Head Coach: Jenelle La Grange
Assistant Coach: Jason Taylor
Through outstanding leadership, skill development, community involvement and mentoring, the coaching staff has left an indelible mark on the program … Instilled values such as teamwork, discipline, sportsmanship and success … Guided a team of 14-year olds to a 15-5-2 record in the summer and fall against 16U and 18U competition … Steered 16/18U in the spring and summer to a 10-10-2 mark … Had a positive impact on the athletes and community, participating outreach programs and workshop to promote softball in the community, while also implementing a big-little program within the organization, allowing the younger players to seek out the older players for advice.
Region IX - Mojo Pikas 18U (CA)
Head Coach: Charlie Pikas
Assistant Coaches: Dave Cardoza, Tyson Escobar, Lupe Camarena
Registered a winning record against strong competition at the Colorado Fireworks Supplement Power Pool, Triple Crown Nationals in Georgia and PGF Nationals in California … Posted a top-five finish at PGF for the third straight year, with only two defeats to the tournament champs and runner-up … 14 of 16 players committed to play collegiately with the 12 seniors heading to play at NCAA Division I, II and III programs … Coach Pikas reached his 500th career victory this summer.
Region X - Charge Fastpitch (WA)
Head Coach: Jaime Colyar
Associate Head Coach: Aaron Colyar
Assistant Coach: Jim Britto
Guided the program to its first-ever second-place showing for the young organization with a runner-up finish at the Fourth of July Shootout in Spokane, Wash. … They continued their success, going 4-2 before finishing the summer, earning a quarterfinal appearances at the Yakima Summer Smash and Slam and Kent Final tournaments … The dedication and drive to continue to grow their knowledge of the game has paid off as the team continues to improve.
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded awards program, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to and extensive drills database, to in-person events and National Convention.
ATEC/NFCA Travel Ball Regional Coaching Staff of Year