It was moms vs. daughters

Published 7:55 pm Monday, July 3, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – For one evening, they were more than mothers and daughters, they were also competitors.

On Sunday at the Troup High softball field, the Troup Thunder Elite travel-softball program held a Moms vs. Daughters game.

The game pitted the 12 members of the 9-10-year-old team against their mothers, and the two teams went at it for seven innings.

The game served as a way to bring the families together, and to also raise money for the GSA World Series this week.

While it was a fun and relaxed atmosphere, the young players didn’t hesitate to throw a few light-hearted verbal jabs in the direction of their mothers.

“They’re all very competitive,” said Jason Graham, the head coach of the Thunder. “It’s healthy, and it’s all in good fun.”

A year ago, all of the same players were members of a Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission team that won the state tournament.

The event was a success, and Graham said everyone wanted to get together and do it again this summer.

“This year, our moms were asking if we were going to do it again,” Graham said. “And that was of course an easy thing for us to do, to give them an opportunity to have fun and get on the field and compete with the girls.”

Graham figures anything that brings everyone together is a good thing.

“It’s about having fun, and what I believe is strengthening the family dynamic on the team,” he said. “It’s little things like that that really help create a tight bond and a strong culture on the team of family.”

Graham, along with fellow coaches Jacob Rice and Tim Siggers, began the Troup Thunder two years ago.

Now, the team is a threat to win any tournament it competes in.

Since February, the team has participated in 10 tournaments, and it has placed third or higher in seven of them with three wins and three runner-up finishes.

“It’s been exciting,” Graham said. “We had a vision of what we wanted to establish, and to see it come to fruition has been really nice.”

Graham added that “we’ve got a strong group of girls, that are serious about softball, and have the potential to be great players in the future.

“When we started with our core group of about four or five two years ago, we knew this is what we wanted to create. So it’s been a lot of fun along the way, watching the team develop, and watching them have success on the field.”

The players have spent ample time on the field since the season began in February including the practices and the tournaments.

“When you combine the practices that we’ve had, two to three days a week going back to January, in addition to the 10 tournaments that we’ve played, our girls have gained a tremendous amount of experience in softball just learning all the different situations that’ll pop up, and how to deal with adversity, how to deal with pressure situations,” Graham said. “They’ve just grown tremendously in their softball IQ, and just understanding the game.”

This week, the team will look to ends its season on a strong note when it competes in the GSA (Global Sports Authority) World Series that will be held in the Atlanta area.

“That will be the cap for our season,” Graham said. “A lot of the teams that will be participating we’ve seen along the way. So we’ve got an idea of what the competition looks like, and we know we can compete with them. So we’re going in with the confidence that we can win it.”

Long-term, Graham is hopeful the experience the girls are gaining now will help them down the road.

“Our goal from Day when Jacob and Tim and I sat down was to say OK, where do we want these girls to be in five, six years,” Graham said. “And what we want is for them to be experienced enough and developed into players that can step into a starting role when they become freshmen in high school. Our goal is to develop players that can develop and contribute to our high-school programs when they get to that stage.”

While this is a busy time and the players seemingly spend as much time at the ballfield as they do at home, Graham said the enthusiasm level never seems to wane.

“They love it,” Graham said. “And the parents do, too. And we do as well. Every time we step on the field, we try to make it competitive, but we keep in mind that it is a game, and that we want to make it fun. If it’s not fun, we could very easily turn them off and they would walk away from the game.”

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