For the first time in close to 15 years, Teaneck softball has a girls travel team. Created thanks to the combined efforts of Ron Siesser and Matt Diamond, the team, consisting mostly of seventh and eighth graders, kicked off its season in the local UGALS league with a pair of Sunday double headers. Comprised of travel teams from across Bergen County, the league is a step up in competition for these girls, all of whom have played in the Teaneck Baseball Organization (TBO). The higher level of play allows the girls the opportunity to fine-tune their skills in preparation for their high school teams. So far, under the guidance of Diamond, Siesser and several other parents/coaches, the team has gone 3-2 and is able to see tremendous improvement from week to week.
The spark that led to the creation of the team came when Diamond’s daughter, Hailey, asked if there was a way to play softball once the TBO season was over. Knowing that there were multiple boys travel teams associated with TBO, Diamond did his research and found a league that would be the perfect introduction to travel softball for this age group. Working jointly with TBO, emails were sent out to gauge interest, and things took off from there. Speaking with The Jewish Link in an interview, Diamond and Siesser elaborated on the team’s creation.
“I’ve coached TBO for close to 15 seasons between all three of my daughters, and have really enjoyed it,” Diamond said. “Last year, I was elected to the TBO board, and have realized that the opportunities are there, they just need someone willing to kick-start and take the initiative, so I did.”
Since the team’s inception, the girls have been putting their best effort into making it as strong as possible. For Diamond, seeing them working hard and trying their best makes it all worthwhile.
“I’m really just hoping that our girls get experience playing against some higher level competition and continue to improve,” Diamond continued. “The only way they’re going to get better is with practice, and seeing tougher competition. We’re playing against girls that have been playing softball three seasons a year for four or five years, so there’s definitely a learning curve that we have to conquer, but I’m confident that we’ll make the strides that we need to get to where we want to be.”
One of the key differences between TBO and UGALS is the shift to high school rules, meaning that players can steal bases, a dropped third strike becomes a live ball and other small changes. The implementation of these new rules took some time for the girls to get used to, but having spent time at practice reviewing these rules in game-type situations, the team is growing comfortable with the new norms.
“We want this team to be a place where Teaneck girls can continue to develop their softball skills that they otherwise may not have been able to,” Siesser said. “We want them to be prepared to play on a higher level. It’s been a blast so far and I’m looking forward to continuing to see where this journey takes us.”
If you are interested in learning more about the team, reach out to Diamond at [email protected]
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.