Andy Bass and his son, T.J., drove approximately eight hours from Greenwood to Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday.
Supplied with water bottles, sandwiches, snacks and no shortage of baseball-related dialogue, the two eventually arrived at their destination — the WWBA Perfect Game Tournament.
It’s here T.J., a junior third baseman for Greenwood Community High School, is attempting to lead the Indiana Bulls 16-Under Black squad against some of the nation’s finest baseball competition in its age group.
The Bass family is one example of parents committed to spending time and money in an effort to get their child the greatest exposure possible during summer break.
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Already this summer the Bulls have competed in events in Cincinnati and Nashville, Tennessee.
There is another visit to Cincinnati for a tournament scheduled later this month.
Travel teams exist mainly in volleyball, soccer, softball and baseball. AAU basketball, while at times a controversial subject due to coaching philosophies differing from a player’s high school program, is, too, an industry of its own.
Andy Bass, the Woodmen baseball coach since 1998, understands the positives of being involved with travel sports.
“The nice part about T.J. playing for the Bulls that their home field is Grand Park in Westfield,” coach Bass said. “A lot of their games are played there since they are based in Noblesville.
“But I do like going to the tournaments. As a baseball guy I get to sit in the stands, watch and be dad. It’s different than my role at Greenwood, but at the same time it’s kind of nice because I can really just focus on what T.J. is doing.”
Another bonus is that all of T.J.’s games are within driving distance.
This isn’t always the case for some families with sons or daughters playing travel sports.
Well-traveled travel teams
As a member of Team Indiana volleyball, Center Grove senior Macy Carrabine already has been in events in Florida, Kansas and Ohio this summer.
Carrabine, a 5-foot-11 defensive specialist/libero signed to attend the University of Denver (Colorado), looks forward to her travel season.
“Once her high school season is over, she plays club ball I would say anywhere from two to three weekends a month,” said Mike Carrabine, Macy’s father. “It’s great watching them chase their dreams, and it’s fun.
“We get to know the other parents and players. It’s like a second family.”
Travel sports families frequently work together to get club team rates on anything from motel stays to meals. Renting an automobile and the cost it takes to put gasoline in it are other potential expenditures.
“Club volleyball becomes part of the family budget because that’s what you do,” Mike Carrabine said. “It’s definitely a sacrifice, but as a parent the way I look at it is we only have one shot at this.”
Parental support still vital
Whether an athlete is playing a summer travel game out of state or one for their high school program close to home, parental support is important.
James Rudd, father of Center Grove junior softball third baseman Jordyn Rudd, sits in the stands when one of his daughters competes and inside the dugout for the other.
“We’re a softball family, so we’re into it,” said James, who coaches the Indiana Magic Gold 14U team that includes his younger daughter, Alexis, an eighth-grade pitcher/first baseman in the Center Grove school system.
“My wife (Michele) and I basically save all of our vacation days, and this is what we do. We budget at the beginning of every year for softball.”
Andy Bass knows his son wants him present to witness whatever hits and defensive plays he makes.
It’s the same in the Carrabine and Rudd families.
“Macy is one of those players who plays better when she has her support system there,” Mike Carrabine said.
Jordyn Rudd, a catcher/third baseman for the Indiana Magic Gold 16U squad, recently played in a tournament in Boulder, Colorado, and is presently competing in one in Chicago.
By the time school starts back up she’ll have been to Georgia twice this summer.
“I love it. It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “My dad coaches my sister’s team and a lot of the times I can sit there and watch her games. It’s just a lot more fun with everyone around. I love having my family there to watch me play.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
A look at the Indiana Bulls schedule this summer:
June 3 to 5;Midwest Prospect League;Westfield
June 6;Bulls Roundup;Westfield
June 8 to 12;17U TOC Cincy Flames;Cincinnati
June 17 to19;Midwest Prospect League;Westfield
June 23 to 26;16U Amateur Baseball Championship;Westfield
June 29 to July 3;Music City Classic;Nashville, Tennessee
July 8 to 15;WWBA Perfect Game;Atlanta, Georgia
July 22 to 24;Prasco Park;Cincinnati