Softball School is exactly what it sounds like: An educational offering for young athletes and their parents, coaches, and others around them, offered digitally and running the gamut on topics and categories.
The latest offering to come from the Packaged Deal umbrella, Softball School went from a concept to a produced venture in under a week’s time. The speed of the venture’s creation was not accidental, according to Amanda Scarborough, an ESPN analyst and The Packaged Deal co-founder.
“When everything got cancelled in the softball world, Jen [Schroeder, Packaged Deal co-founder] texted us and said, ‘Hey, I have this crazy idea. Let’s come up with this virtual softball school.’ Of course, we don’t know what’s going to happen with the virus, but just projecting out, it might be a good amount of time that players need to keep busy, and keep the softball world alive. It’s kind of like creating a new team, a new community with a different new normal for a softball player, softball coach, softball family.”
Classes in Softball School are running three times a day, beginning each day at 8 am Pacific time. The group’s initial thought was that their usual clinic coaching rosters would provide the instruction for the new venture, though Scarborough says those plans were quickly upended, in a positive way.
“As soon as we started talking about this and put it on social media, we had a lot of coaches and former players reaching out to us and wanting to be involved,” Scarborough said. “They wanted to give back as much as we wanted to give back, and pretty much everyone who is guest-teaching is somebody who reached out to us and said ‘I’m really passionate about this topic; I want to talk to softball players, coaches, and parents about this, and I want to make an impact on them and be in front of them during this hard time.”
Now nearing the end of the second week of class, Softball School’s topics have run the gamut, from offensive and pitching instruction to lessons on being a good teammate and overcoming an injury. Topics like fitness and nutrition are also on the schedule.
Enrollment in Softball School has topped 3,600, while the list of teachers numbers more than four dozen and is a virtual Who’s Who from across the game; the roster of instructors includes Natasha Watley; Sue Enquist; and former national champions Cassie Reilly-Boccia of Alabama and Meghan King of Florida State, among others.
Classes typically run 30-45 minutes each, and all are broadcast via Facebook Live in a setting that is exclusive to Softball School members. An interactive model was an important part of the concept, according to Scarborough.
“The goal is for everything to be live,” Scarborough noted. “Especially because then you can be more interactive, asking questions and such, and the coaches can be more of the mindset like ‘How can we make this the most interactive class possible?’ Maybe that’s writing down goals for the day, or things that you’re thankful for, or notes from that class that you might not be able to put into play now, but that you can put in motion later.”
Priced at $90 for enrollment, Softball School is set to run for another four weeks’ time, with the same three-per-day lesson schedule. Previous lessons are archived and available for even those who enroll now, keeping the $1/class price point and full schedule of topics at hand for even belated enrollees.
Scarborough summed up the purpose of Softball School very efficiently: “Just because we can’t play softball right now doesn’t mean that we can’t still find a way to learn about this sport and about ourselves. And when I say ourselves, I mean that as a player and finding a way to get more out of myself… it’s the old thing of ‘what do you when nobody’s watching’; now, your character has the ability to come out more for better or for worse, and we wanted to provide an outlet to help character come out for the better and where players can learn more about themselves.”