FAQ’s

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General Questions

The answer is dependent on several things, age, athletic ability, maturity, players love of the game, parents agenda are a few of the factors that come in to play. First thing you might want to do is ask yourself :

  • How did last year go?
  • Did your son learn anything, did he enjoy himself, did he make any NEW friends, did his love of the game increase, decrease, or stay the same?
  • Was he excited about going to practice?
  • Did he look forward to putting his uniform on to get to the field to play the game?
  • Did he improve as much as hoped for by being challenged by his coaches, teammates, and competition?

Most of the time we hear more NO’s than YESSES to those questions.
IF all you seek is for your son to go to the same field 3 times a week and play the same 4 or 5 teams during the year then IN-HOUSE might be the way to go.
IF your player is one of the better players then you will enjoy watching the manager parade him out to the mound every third game and strike out a bunch of batters. You will probably enjoy watching him hit the ball  and beam with pride as he gets his 3rd or 4th inside the park home run as the defense throws the ball all over the place.

We had a player on our team one year that was struggling game after game to get a hit on our travel team. His mom came up and said “I don’t understand why he is not hitting for the Thunderbolts because yesterday in his IN-HOUSE game hit had 3 hits.” Wow, we thought that’s great, So we asked “where did he hit the ball?” The mom enthusiastically began explaining that the first time up he “HIT” the ball to the pitcher but the pitcher threw the ball over the first baseman’s head and he ran all the way to second! The second HIT was to the 3rd baseman and the ball went under his glove into left field! The third and final HIT was a pop-up to the right fielder who run in and the ball went over his head!. When we explained those were errors and not hits, she explained “but he HIT the ball so that’s 3 HITS……

IN-HOUSE/REC BALL vs. TRAVEL explained right there.

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Tough One. Yes playing with friends is a HUGE part of the IN-HOUSE/REC BALL experience. In many cases it’s the deal breaker.
Continuing the friendships into each summer is a strong attraction. It’s also fun for the parents to get to hang out with the same clique of people that you are comfortable with.
The other view is on a travel team your son will make new friends as a group of young men get together to build a team. Its fun to watch. Also you might meet someone new and interesting as well.
We believe this view is short sighted and we have lost many kids for this reason.

The only thing we know is that a HUGE number of the parents will have come to us and have said “boy I wished we made the move sooner” or “I wish you would have talked me into travel BEFORE he turned 12, 13 years old.”

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First, congratulations on your son making his tournament team (or as many parents refer to it the “ALL STAR” team).  There is no doubt that this particular team is good, and you most likely believe it’s the best in a long time.
The reality is very simple:
Your 12 year old team is NOT going to the Little League World Series.
They will NOT get to the Regional Level.
There is tiny immeasurable chance the will make it to the State Level.
There is a pretty good chance they will make it to Sectional Level because there is little to no competition at the District Level.

However winning the District is typically as far as they will go (check the records, it’s something like 35 years). Now, ask yourself is that what you want. To spend the month of June / July preparing for ONE District Tournament only to be eliminated at the next level.
One never knows, and of course past performance is no guarantee of future results.
However we also all know the definition of insanity.

Now if it’s the experience of participation is all you are after then there is no argument that that is a good one. However if you choose to join a travel team, this experience will be repeated and enhanced as we participate in many high level World Series class tournaments.

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That is a fine idea provided you don’t actually believe that the IN-HOUSE/REC BALL travel team is actually a travel team.
The IN-HOUSE/REC PROGRAM(s) exist for a reason. They are hugely IMPORTANT to a thriving community providing EVERY boy that wants play baseball regardless of his ability the chance to do exactly that. These leagues are as important as the library, the parks, scouts, etc.
Travel Teams were not created to compete with these leagues. They were created to provide the small percentage of talented players an alternative environment to receive advanced coaching and a higher level of competition.

Over the years many of the daddy-coaches would have their son try out and join a travel team. They were surprised to find out that on this team their son didn’t always pitch or play shortstop and bat 1st. The managers of these teams actually treated this player the same as all the other players, –
NO SPECIAL TREATMENT.

Well that wasn’t going to work for these guys so what did they do?? They started their own travel teams. Problem solved.

NOW we get to the next bunch of daddy/coaches. THESE guys simply figured out well lets create a “travel/in-house/rec team” which will be made up of all our kids, and our coaches, and friends, and guys on the board kids. Then decided lets get new jerseys, new hats and use the IN-HOUSE/REC BALL fields, insurance, equipment, etc. for these few players. Best part they decided was that we can have the SAME IN-HOUSE/REC managers/coaches to coach a completely different game against teams and players that were EXCLUSIVELY playing travel baseball.
Hey, change hats and you go from a daddy coach to a baseball coach.

You figure out how that’s going to work out.

Just because you drive to another field that doesn’t qualify you as a travel team.

 

 

 

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Good one. Makes sense when you say it or read the question here.

It’s 2 different things. Sooner or later good players will move on to full time independent travel teams. Unfortunately most do it too late. So some parents want the “best of both worlds.”
The Illiana Thunderbolts have tried this since our inception 17 years ago.
There is no single answer.

The IN-HOUSE game was created over 75 years ago with rules that leveled the playing field so that EVERYONE who wanted to play baseball could play no matter their ability. This WAS & IS a great thing. Most of the rules are basically the same.  But the “WAY” the game is taught and played is COMPLETELY different.

The travel game is played at different length bases, different length pitchers mound, bigger outfields, faster pitchers, aggressive base running, lead-offs, balks, signs, hit & runs,  more, more, more.

It is too much to ask a 10,11,12 year old to learn two different ways to play the same game? You tell me.

Read this experience, it is a good example of the difference in the game:
Several years back our IN-HOUSE 12 year old team had 8 Illiana Thunderbolts on the team. That year they went 22-2 and 6-0 in post season playoffs. NOW the record is not important. What was important was the 8 Thunderbolt players were playing a different game. Going from 1st to 3rd, hitting the cut-off man. Throwing a change-up instead of a fast ball down the middle with an 0-2 count. During that season this actually occurred. First, know that the Illiana Thunderbolts expect our batters to be aggressive. We teach the players that they may get one good pitch to hit and it may be the first pitch they see, so we encourage-no we insist they  go up there ‘READY’ to hit. So, here we are at an IN-HOUSE game and one of the Thunderbolts is up to bat. First pitch right down the middle, our batter took it strike one, next pitch same spot strike 2. Next pitch batter swings. Misses, strike 3. So I asked the batter (remember this is a Thunderbolt player – part time that year) “ why did you take the first two pitches, they were perfect, right down the middle?” The player looked me in the eyes and said the manager (IN-HOUSE manager) told him NOT to swing until he had two strikes. I then found out that he had told ALL the players to “crowd the plate” and  ”don’t swing until you get 2 strikes.”  So, being of an inquisitive mind I asked the IN-HOUSE manager if in fact he had told the team to “crowd the plate and don’t swing until you get two strikes on you” The manager said of course he did and began to explain to me that the pitcher on the other team was their best pitcher and we had to get the “pitch count” up so that we could get him out the game. Apparently COUNTING was MORE important that teaching baseball.

This is IN-HOUSE baseball thinking.

All that being said, the Illiana Thunderbolts do offer part time positions for players that want to stay in the rec league and also experience travel baseball.

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Ask yourself these questions:

Does your son love baseball, does he love the “game”? Is he an athlete? Does he like to be challenged? Does he want to play for his H.S. team? Does he want to make the varsity squad as a sophomore? Is the H.S. he is likely to go to have a successful competitive program? Does he like making new friends? Are you getting tired of “bad” baseball? Does he have a daddy-coach?  Does your IN-House board members favor their own kids and disregard the others?
Well if you answered yes to some of those questions then it is probably time to move on..

Now if some of these are familiar to you. “No he doesn’t love baseball he likes playing sometimes”, “yes its hard to get him to practice sometimes as he doesn’t always seem to want to go.”  “No, my son does not like too many challenges or being called out if he makes a mistake, he just shuts down and gives up.”  ‘Not sure if he wants to play baseball in HS, he might play football or basketball or all three sports.” “ Sure he likes making new friends but would rather play baseball with the kids he goes to school with. “ “We don’t have bad baseball in our league, we won district last year!”  “No his dad does not coach, the pitchers dad is the coach, He has a  hitting stick & a batting net, and a pitching machine, and a tablet with a baseball program on it!”  “I am not on the board of our league but my son made the All Stars because he is really good.”
Well if this is more like your train of thought them IN-HOUSE/REC BALL will work just fine for you and your player.

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It’s more expensive than a IN-HOUSE-REC BALL team. So is a Lexus vs. Chevy Spark or Starbucks vs. McDonalds. You get the idea. Travel teams cost more for many reasons, multiple uniforms, tourney fees, field maintenance/rental, sanction fees, insurance, administration, coaching expertise, etc. However, the good news is that most reputable travel programs have fundraising plans in place to help off-set the higher fees. Ask us how easy it is to raise close to 85% toward a travel team fee through fundraising.

In regards to requesting a refund of your payment or deposit, this is a difficult question. This is due to the fact that when you sign up to participate in an event, team or other activity we in many cases also incur an expense. For example your deposit and/or payment in many cases is immediately used to pay an expense related to your participation. Therefore as a rule refunds are not provided. However upon request each case can be looked at individually in the event that your circumstances would dictate a different resolution.

If you have any questions or require additional information please visit our website at www.illianathunderbolts.com

 

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The Illiana Thunderbolts was formally created in 2004. It was created to provide the opportunity for parents to find a place to have their players play in a competitive environment with a strong emphasis on fundamental instruction.

The coaches that began this program were looking for more that what their local in house/rec ball little league programs could provide. They saw a big discrepancy between their in house/rec ball teams and the more competitive focused travel programs.  Originally the program was called “G.R.E.A.T.” This was due to the fact that we received free T-Shirts from the local community police department. Then we were called the Vipers for a year. Finally after more and more parents got on board it was decided to formalize the organization and thus the the Illiana Thunderbolts were formed.

The first part of the name ILLIANA refers to players to the geographic area on both sides of the Illinois & Indiana border. The THUNDERBOLTS as the story goes came about as it was raining and storming on the day that we needed to tell a tournament director what our name was.

Since most of our players in the beginning days were playing on their local in-house/rec ball teams we started as a part-time travel team. Playing rec ball games during the week and on Saturdays and travel ball baseball on Sundays. Today we are trying to move away from part time travel players as we have learned that that model simply does NOT work.  Its not easy convincing parents of this widely accepted fact but after many years of compromise we have decided that changes need to be made.

It has always been the position of our program to allow for “part-time” players. Many of our parents did not have any travel ball experience and only new the in-house teams. This plus the fact that many of our original coaches and founders of our programs  served on local Little League and other In-House/Rec Ball program boards and really had no point of reference outside their limited experiences. The local in-house/rec ball programs offer a great opportunity for all players regardless of ability the opportunity to play on an organized baseball team. These teams play in shortened seasons (17-22 games) and most receive a trophy or medal of some sort. After the shortened season the leagues  select tournament team(s) which they call “ALL STARS”  typically made up of the sons of the board members, managers and their friends. Some players who do not have these “connections” make the teams, unfortunately they are few and far between. After many years of witnessing this and speaking with dozens of other similar programs in many geographic areas, the decision to be exclusively full team was an easy ones.

Our mission statement is posted elsewhere on the site. However it is simple to understand that the Thunderbolts were created to provide an atmosphere for both players and parents to focus on fundamental instructional baseball for serious minded people. Most people refer to this as Travel-Baseball. A player must try-out and be selected. Not everyone that wants to play can play. Players come from anywhere , not just their local town.  If a problem arises it is dealt with immediately and resolved.

When the focus is baseball that is easy to accomplish.

Now comes the question, Should my player play In-House or Travel Baseball?

While this question is often asked the answer is not as simple as one might think. The Thunderbolts position however is clear.

IF your player is an athlete, IF your player has athletic ability, IF your player loves baseball , IF you(parents) love baseball, then Travel Baseball is the right choice.

On the other hand, IF your player is an average athlete, IF your player is still developing, IF you and your player desire to focus on many sports (soccer, basketball, swimming, etc) then In-House Baseball is your pick.

The differences between In-House & Travel Baseball is vast. Unfortunately it is difficult if not impossible to truly understand it unless you experience it.

Most people are not prepared to make that jump, accept that challenge. Staying with In-House is the easy – familiar choice, the comfortable choice.
Sad but true.
In-House/Rec Ball has tried to combat this obvious discrepancy and so they have created their own travel teams. Don’t be fooled by this.  These are not travel teams. These are In-House/Rec Ball teams with the same players (different jerseys and hats) & same coaches trying to play two completely different style of games. It doesn’t work.  Just because your travel team  “travels” to another field to play a few games doesn’t make it a travel team.

Travel Teams are very happy and confident in their position. They typically do not want to play games against part time travel team or in-house travel teams. No point to it.

In-House/Rec Ball teams are not happy and continue to want to be like a travel team. They schedule games, enter a few travel tournaments only to be frustrated at every juncture. Its a different game. Ask any in-house/travel coach. They will justify their position but the bottom line they do not play the same level of baseball as travel teams.

So, its up to you. Remember every year you wait to do what needs to be done for your son is a year you will NEVER GET BACK…

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The number of teams will depend on the committed players we get. We intend to have a 10u, 11u, 12u, 13u, 14u, 15u AND multiple H.S. teams (16 through 18 yrs old) in the upcoming year.

  • 10u

  • 11u

  • 12u

  • 13u

  • 14u

  • 15u

  • H.S. 16u/17u/18u

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In 2019 the earliest age will be 9 years old. We are planning on playing in a few tournaments in July at the 8u level. We will have an 8u team for the 2020 season

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YES. At the moment. however we will close the rosters as soon as we we have enough players.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

 

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Yes you can send your questions via email to:
info@illianathunderbolts.com or text or call 708-473-5051.

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