Softball has been a popular sport for years, with thousands of young men and women participating all over the country. But the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) believes the sport could go much further and has already made initiatives to expand its softball program.
Debra Horn, sports manager of AAU baseball and softball, is excited about the changes. “We’re going through a transition period and growing steadily,” says Horn. “We’ve received a lot of interest from various states, and we’re hoping to become more widespread.”
The recent changes to the program have already spurred an uptick in athletes looking to play and cities eager to get involved.
The AAU, a non-profit sports organization, has been around since 1888. It has grown into one of the most established youth sports foundations in the country, with around 500,000 participants and over 50,000 volunteers. Even with its strong following, the AAU is continually looking to grow, adding more promising athletes, skilled coaches and dedicated directors.
“We’ve been hiring new directors and operators to reach out and establish teams and clubs,” says Horn. “They promote the benefits of playing with [AAU].”
By becoming a member of the AAU, players will not only be part of a long-standing and respected organization, but they will also have an opportunity to participate in competitive league play, national tournaments and showcases. They will even be introduced to college recruiters and coaches.
For anyone putting a club together or hosting an event, the benefits are great, too. The AAU offers full insurance coverage to all members. According to the AAU website, “The AAU insurance program includes sports accidents, general liability, extended coverage and insurance certificates.” And that covers all athletes, coaches, event operators, spectators and facilities. With those kinds of advantages, and a relatively inexpensive membership fee, hundreds of people are eager to get involved in the union’s softball events.
AAU’s softball program is one of the best in the nation, and Horn says that it is only going to improve. In fact, sports participation has been growing consistently the last few years.
“Our nationals in will bring 150 teams to the city in July,” says Horn. The organization also plans to host more exhibitions and bring in more college recruiters and coaches to help players in their future athletic and academic endeavors. Horn says they are planning on having two national tournaments because one is not enough.
The growing success of the softball program has caused more cities and sports commissions to market their sporting facilities and get in on the action. Horn says the AAU has had contact from numerous cities interested in hosting softball events. The AAU not only draws a large crowd to its tournaments, helping cities economically, but it also makes hosting easy and affordable. Since it is a 501c3 non-profit, the AAU runs its events with the help of volunteers, keeping sanctioning costs low. Cities or states can put in a bid simply by contacting Horn or attending an AAU national convention where they can put on a bid presentation.
With key management personnel serving on the softball committee, new director positions being filled and more teams being set up around the country, it appears that AAU softball has plenty of growth potential.