ARCANUM – Wittenberg University Lady Tigers fastpitch softball head coach, Shannon Schaub brought girls softball to Arcanum for a day of camp at the First Annual Focus College Clinic.
“Our school is only an hour away from here so obviously we know this side of the state which is really nice,” said Schaub. “It is nice to see some young girls like this that are starting organization like 10U and then building that organization as they are growing up. That is why programs like this are successful over time and not just for one season – it’s because they are building their program.”
Focus, a Darke County fastpitch ladies softball program is in its third year of play bringing some of the area’s best players together for select ball. The program allows athletes looking to play at the next level to get recognition from college coaches.
David McCans, head coach for the 16U Focus team was instrumental in bringing the camp to Arcanum along with Jake Fashner.
“What we did to help get some girls out there and be seen,” said McCans, “not everybody can get to camp so we brought a camp here for the girls.”
Coach Schaub, an Ashland University graduate played softball for the Lady Eagles and went on to serve eight seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater before taking over the head coaching job at Springfield’s Wittenberg University.
Schaub began her college career as a pitcher before moving to first base. In her senior season, Schaub batted .357, hitting 11 home runs to go along with 31 RBIs while being named First-Team All-GLIAC as well as First-Team All-Region.
“The biggest thing, we’re trying to focus on teaching them what their body’s doing,” Schaub said of the one day camp. “In the morning we’re doing some hitting and base running. In afternoon we are going to do defensive speed and agility.”
The First Annual Focus College Clinic saw all five Focus teams taking to the Arcanum diamonds including 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U teams.
“The girls are always used to listening to us so we thought we would break it up,” McCans noted. “Let them listen to other coaches and learn some new things. It breaks everything up in the middle of summer and it really makes the girls better.”
Coach Schaub took time to talk girls sports in general with an emphasis on fastpitch softball.
“The biggest thing is just getting them involved,” said Schaub. “The difference between men and women – women; we feel good, we play good where men play good to feel good. That is where you are seeing women’s sports really take off because we understand that this is a way for us to fuel our tank, like to fill us up.”
“You’re seeing the growth in every sport, not just softball. It is great to see, not just an organization like Focus Fastpitch softball, but you are seeing these organizations pop up everywhere because there is such a passion for it. My whole theory is; I just want to provide an environment where these girls can grow physically, mentally, socially and spiritually and be the people they aspire to be.”
“If we start them young their dreams get a little bit bigger, they aspire to be something a little bit greater so it is all of us doing our part,” added Schaub. “That is where you are seeing women’s sports kind of take off because we are giving those equal opportunities to men or any other sport in general.”
Many former Darke County high school students are currently continuing their education at Wittenberg or have graduated from the University located an hour east.
“We have a great campus,” Coach Schaub stated. “We have a president that is really supportive of athletics. We just built our brand new indoor facility and that is him supporting us as an institution, but also as an athletics department.”
“Gary Williams is an amazing AD that supports women’s sports, Title IX and making sure that we have all the equal opportunities that every men’s sports does,” continued Schaub. “You are seeing some great success not just with our football team and our basketball team but you’re seeing our women’s volleyball team, women’s soccer, you’re seeing basketball, you’re seeing all of these sports grow together. The institution has done a great job of giving everyone the opportunity to do that.”
Coach Schaub gave some tips to high school student athletes interested in continuing their education while playing a sport at the college level.
“The biggest thing is getting yourself out there,” said Schaub. “It is never too early to reach out to a coach. Granted, there are some NCAA regulations about when we can talk to athletes and the different means of that but by you introducing yourself – it’s never too early to send out and email.”
“Go to a camp at their campus. At Wittenberg every sport is going to offer camps in different parts of the year. We are going to do a camp here in the fall and then we do winter camps as well. By coming to our campus you not only get to see the great facilities that we have but you get to meet us, you get to meet our team and then it kind of sparks your interest to see if you are really interested in playing a sport at that next level.”
“Definitely get on our website and look us up,” concluded Coach Schaub. “Every sport is going to have different camps on that website. Just make sure that you are attending and you are making that effort.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Wittenberg University Lady Tigers fastpitch softball coach instructs campers at the First Annual Focus College Clinic. (Gaylen Blosser photo)