The BlueChip Way

Hi,

Welcome to BlueChip!

We realize you have MANY options when it comes to where your son plays baseball.  Thank you for taking the time to check out our Academy.

As a parent of a youth baseball player you probably are intending to:

  • Find a team/coach who actually cares about your kid
  • Find a team where your son will actually play frequently and improve on his game
  • Find a team that won’t make you go broke supporting your son’s passion

The intentions for players are typically to:

  • Find a team and a coach that they actually like and enjoy playing for
  • Find a team where they can play more innings and improve on their game
  • Find opportunities and a path for playing COLLEGE BASEBALL

At BlueChip we help both our players and parents accomplish ALL of these goals, and this is what makes us unique.

My wife and I have 5 sons who play(ed) baseball.  I have coached from T-Ball through High School aged teams and back again.  Currently I have a 11 year old son and a 17 year old son playing youth baseball, and my 21 year old son plays College Baseball.   I have spent over a decade on the baseball field coaching, and been a part of many teams/schools/academies.  We were inspired to start our own Academy because we intend to do things differently then the rest.  The order of priority here at BlueChip is to do what’s best FIRST for the the player,  then the parent, and finally, the team (in that order.)

I am not re-inventing baseball, and I don’t expect to change the way baseball operates.  My intention is to have a positive impact on the players and families who play with BlueChip.

Here are some of the areas where we do things differently:

  1. Positive Coaching
  2. Costs Less – AND – Save Money
  3. Playing Time for All Players
  4. Memories and Community
  5. No Politics
  6. College Recruiting Included in the Fee
  7. Proper Use of Pitchers
  8. Coaches Get to Just Coach & Communicate Vs Operational Side

I’ll be sending you a few more emails over the next couple of days giving you more information about BlueChip and our unique approach.

If you are in a hurry and would like to read them all at once, they are located on the website – CLICK HERE.

Again, I thank you for your time, and look forward to providing a stellar baseball experience for you and your son!

All the best,

Coach Jay

BlueChip Baseball

www.BlueChipBaseball.org

Jay@BlueChipBaseball.org

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POSITIVE COACHING

Today I want to talk with you about positive coaching and why it’s paramount here at BlueChip.

By the way, this is one of the main reasons we started BlueChip.  Our sons rarely had positive coaches unless I was the coach, and I couldn’t possibly coach all of them at once.

With the arrival of tournament play as the norm, the game has changed in intensity over the years to younger and younger ages.  The pressure to win every inning, game and weekend is HUGE.  People get caught up in it.  Coaches easily find themselves “winning at all costs.”  This creates a myriad of problems, the most common of them is frustrated, stressed out and screaming coaches.  People demand to win (for lots of reasons) and I guess coaches think that by screaming at kids they will play better?  Screaming at players doesn’t inspire them, it usually makes them “tone deaf” and sadly, lose their love for the game.

Coaches often forget that these aren’t adults.  These are young, impressionable, growing kids who may even already lack self-esteem and confidence.  Being negative (even in their humor) or being loud and screaming at players usually just shuts them down. 

I often ask my coaches – “how did we do at the dinner table?”  By this I mean, did the players go home excited and feeling good about themselves after practice or the game?  Or, did they go home feeling dejected, upset or broken down, or even numb? The last thing we want to do is break players down and have them lose their love for the game.  We want to be a positive part of the dinner table discussion!

Why would any parent want to PAY someone to make their son feel bad about themselves?  Ok, we understand that not all players are above average players.  We understand competition, and most of the time you don’t win all your tournaments and the coach can get frustrated.   But as parents, we want our kids to feel confident and good about themselves, right?

Baseball can be a challenging game.  I think it gets even more difficult when a coach is screaming at the same time.  For sure, it doesn’t help.

Coaches yell at players for a variety of reasons.  The biggest reason is NOT about the player, it is to tell everyone standing outside the fence that he (the coach) was not responsible for what just happened on the field.   WHY?  This is for the coaches own self esteem.  The problem is, he just hurt the player – sometimes irreparably.  Maybe they are trying to win at all costs so they can get a better coaching gig, or hang onto the one they have.  To me, this is a “coach centered” approach.  It doesn’t work.

At BlueChip we use a “player centered” approach.  We are more concerned with the individual players than we are the coach or the Academy.  Our goal is to facilitate our players in being more confident, which then leads to them becoming more skilled and better baseball players.  Confidence is the key to a player’s success.  It will lead them towards accomplishing their ultimate goal for playing youth baseball, which is often to be recruited to play College Baseball and receive a scholarship to cover some or all of their education!

There are many factors that can potentially come into play as to why a player is at their current playing level:

  • Physical development – have they hit their growth spurt?
  • Confidence – emotional development
  • Genetic Lottery – some people are just born with the “baseball gene”
  • Desire – do they really LOVE the game and WANT to succeed
  • Frustration – what is their current mindset, past experience or goals
  • Are they playing for themselves or someone else?

BlueChip coaches take the time to understand our players.   Our goal is to reach them and assist them in improving their game, no matter where they are on the talent / growth spectrum.

Isn’t that pretty close to the definition of “a Coach”?

To me the gauge of a good coach is not wins and losses, it is – did the coach facilitate every player on the roster in being the best player and person they can be?

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BlueChip Costs Less AND Saves You Money

I’m sure you realize by now that youth baseball has become a big business!

Our sons have played with teams in both Phoenix and Denver.  Some of these teams can cost between $2500 - $3000 PER SEASON.  This translates to Spring, Summer and Fall, which can quickly add up to $10,000 per year per kid.  YIKES!

As parents, we needed to find a way to accomplish the same level of baseball, along with the same opportunities, for example to be SEEN by colleges, and quite simply do it for less.

BlueChip offers players (and Parents) a similarly competitive schedule for drastically less money.  While there are costs involved, as a whole, the baseball world could make things way more affordable.

There are many clubs out there that are now doing multiple out of state tournaments for 9u, 10u and 11u teams.  This can quickly drive the price of participation out of reach for many people on many levels.  Parents typically travel with the players on these trips.  So in addition to the cost of the events, you have travel, hotel, days off of work and other travel expenses.  These trips can cost a family $2000 - $5000 per trip.  Are these necessary?

Coaches are also driving up the costs.  Many coaches want to make a living in the baseball industry.  A coach intending to focus on Baseball as their primary money source can easily drive up the player fee.  If there are multiple coaches of this nature in an Academy, the price can quickly become prohibitive.  The other area to watch for is the roster size.  If your club team is becoming a “money grab,” then the roster sizes are probably also increasing past the point of functionality.

As players get into the High School ages, the costs can become even higher!  Camps, Showcases, Recruiting Services, Videos, Lessons, College visits…  the list goes on and on.  While some of these items are necessary, it is always good to know which ones are wasted money and effort.

BlueChip tries to take the best of these opportunities and incorporate them into the program. We like to include many of them into the player fee vs an additional fee.

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College Camps

Today I’d like to share information with you about College Camps, and why they are often a great idea with a good format, yet the execution is often less then adequate.

At most of the Camps/Showcases, there are 100+ players from around the region.  There are usually 10-15 College Coaches at each camp.  A two day event is ample time for players to get comfortable and showcase their skills.  Here are the issues:

  • What level are the coaches at the camp?  Most of the time they are D1.  Yet, most players are not D1 players.
  • A player at the camp is 1 out of 100.  How do any of the coaches get to know or hear about him unless he is so good that he really stands out?  Who is there to promote him to the college coaches?
  • Travel and cost are usually also a factor

Here at BlueCHip we host our own college camps.  We typically have 10 college coaches at a camp.  Only BlueChip players can attend.  This way, we are the only ones promoting our players.  The result is that each player receives personalized attention. 

Last year in AZ we held 3 camps and 30 College Coaches were involved.  Essentially, we introduced our players personally to 30 schools.  The schools participating were Juco to D2 as this is where most of our players will end up playing at the next level.  We do invite D1 schools to our camps as well.  I essentially gear the camp to the players.

One of two outcomes happen;   Either several of the college coaches are interested in individual players OR none of the schools are interested in a player.  This tells us where each player is at in their development, so we can be realistic about their advancement.  THIS is the feedback we need as parents – the opinion of College coaches…. not, our High School coach, club coach or instructor who might be leading us on (possibly) for different reasons.

By the way, our camp fees are included in our already way lower player fee.

Isn’t this the way it should be?

So, what about college recruiting services?  What I’ve learned about them is that there are literally 100s of them out there which can be completely overwhelming.  The cost is also often daunting!

BlueChip uses a FREE service for our players, where I have the opportunity to communicate personally with coaches about each individual player.  Because it’s so personalized, we are having excellent success in placing our graduating players.  Did I mention it is FREE?   This is yet another example of how BlueChip can save you money beyond the face value of the player fee.

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Playing Time

I believe that playing time, screaming coaches and costs are the 3 biggest reasons why players change teams so quickly.  Down here in Phoenix, a high percentage of players change teams just about every 45 days.  Why?  Well, if they aren’t happy with their current situation they know there are literally 100s of teams to choose from.   Jumping around from team to team doesn’t help anyone.

Here at BlueChip we believe that all players need to actually PLAY in order to get better and to be seen by colleges.  How will your son get to play in college if he never gets to play?

Many older teams (14u and older) carry 17, 18, 19 even 20 or more players.  Yet, the desire to win at all costs is so prevalent that if you are not in the starting 9, you almost never get to play.  Yes, you might have been on a “winning team”, but hardly gotten the chance to play or get better.  Out of town trips only compound this problem.   Imagine taking a 4 day trip somewhere, spending the money on the trip, taking the time off of work only to go watch your kid sit the bench.  This is exactly the scenario when, voila, you have a player looking for another team!

BlueChip keeps it’s rosters at 14 position players or less, plus all the pitcher only players we can find.  You can never have enough pitchers!  Our rosters are position specific – 2 catchers, 3 corner infielders, 3 middle infielders, 5 outfielders and 1 utility player.  We require that our coaches play everyone just about the same amount of time on the field.  This way, ALL players will play about 66-70% of the time.  Injuries, vacations, school trips, weddings, etc.  You get my point, players miss for a variety of reasons (life happens) and then each player gets to play a little more.  And so, in this case, we still have enough players to compete.

What makes this concept work is that we do a pretty stellar job finding players who will contribute to the team’s success.  We don’t just fill up the roster with players who are at different skill levels.  Once we find that right mix of 14 players, we can all relax and know that our kid will get his playing time – guaranteed!

Have you ever noticed that when your son was playing up to the age of 12, the parents bonded together and form a fun little community where everyone became friends?  Some of our best friends are from our kids youth baseball teams!  Once the players turn 13, this all stops.  Why?  I believe it is playing time.

In the stands families stop sitting next to each other so they can complain quietly – usually about playing time.  “Why is that kid getting all the innings at 3B, when my son is better…” or “Johnny has a higher batting average than Timmy, but Timmy gets to play 1B all the time, what’s the deal with this?.”   You get the picture. 

So here is the solution; if you KNOW that your kid will play when you sign up for a BlueChip team, you can then cheer for ALL the players because they will get their turns to play as well.  If you kid is on the bench, no need to worry, you KNOW he will be back on the field in an inning or two.  This way we can all be friends and cheer for each other’s kids.  Isn’t this more fun anyway?

While all of this is good for the players and the families, it is actually harder on the coach.  It is really easier for the coach to fill out a lineup card, go with his best 9 players and just let it roll.  But that is not what BlueChip is about.  Since we require our coaches to play everyone, they need to get creative and find a way to have every player contribute.   BlueChip Coaches are not run of the mill coaches.  They are awesome.

We want to build a community around our players.  It’s a lot more fun that way, right?  

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Memories & Community

As adults, our playing time is over, but our love for the game is still alive.  Many of us have amazing memories of our own playing days on the diamond.  The tournament we won at 12u, the trip we took when we were 15u, playing in the High School state tournament, playing College Baseball and making friends that last a lifetime.  Whatever your memories are, they keep your love for this game alive.  These are the stories you tell your kids around the dinner table.

What will our kids take with them when their playing days are over and they have kids of their own?  Will they be happy/“feel good” memories?

My hope is that their memories of playing this game are amazing, and that they will remember their time playing baseball for the rest of their lives. 

Too many players quit the game because of all of the reasons I have been talking about in previous emails.  Negativity, politics, injury, pressure…  all of these reasons can taint a player’s memories.  How sad is that?!

I like to say – these are YOUR memories – let’s make them good ones!

You know what?  These are the memories we take with us as parents for the rest of our lives too!  So let’s make them good memories for us as well.

Community is very important as we journey with our kids through this Youth Baseball “thing.”

BlueChip is committed to their families and intends to provide an environment where people meet friends.  It is just simply way more fun this way!

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Pitching is Paramount

Pitching is one of the most important aspects of baseball.  Teams win and lose based on the quality of their pitching.  Pitchers are also the most overworked and injured players on the field. 

In my opinion there are 3 contributing factors as to why pitchers are overworked:

  • Tournament format teams
  • High School scheduling / HS summer teams
  • Playing on multiple teams

In tournament play success is built on “winning each inning of each game.”  If you win on Thursday and Friday you get a better seed on Saturday. If you are able to do well on Saturday and get to Sunday, then winning becomes paramount.

This format makes it all too easy and all too justifiable for a coach to over pitch their best pitchers.  Even if a better pitcher doesn’t start the first game on Thursday, let’s say the game is close and they just need him to pitch 20 pitches or so they can win that game, in he goes.  OK, 20 pitches not so bad.  Same thing on Friday, another 20 pitches.  Here comes Saturday, oh shoot, we drew the #1 seed on Saturday morning, we better start our best pitcher, so he pitches and wins on Saturday morning.  Then, he probably plays SS or 3B in game 2 on Saturday.  Here comes Sunday with a chance to win the tournament…  Start him?  Let him give us a good start – “just two innings,” they say.  “Or should we save him and let him close it if we need to go that route?”

Do you see the problem here?  The pitching arm is just not built to perform in this way.

The need for the coach / team to win is putting the player’s needs second, and putting him in harms way, far too often.

Ok, let’s take a quick look at HS baseball.  Have you ever noticed that most teams play a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule?   This schedule allows a HS coach to use 2 main pitchers.  The guy who starts Tuesday can come back on Saturday and pitch, then he will start again on Thursday the following week.  Pitcher number 2 goes on the alternating day.  Find a pitcher that can close out games and you have your staff. 

Alright, that passes the sniff test, but just barely.

The problem then becomes when the HS team begins play in the summer.  They all want to play tournaments and double headers touting a 50 game summer schedule.  Well, at this point only 3 pitchers are ready for the summer season.  That is not nearly enough pitching to manage this type of playing schedule.  Again, far too easy for pitchers to get overworked and hurt.

What about playing for multiple teams at the same time as a pitcher?  Well, how can this possibly work?  Do either of the coaches check to make sure the player’s arm is rested enough to pitch when they need them to?

None of these 3 formats have the best interests of the pitcher/player in mind.  All of these are Coach or Academy centered approaches.

BlueChip thinks about this topic very differently.  We try to make sure that all of our teams have 8 or 9 players who can pitch.  Pitching back to back games is never an option (unless you have a true closer.)  It is just not ever worth it to put a player’s arm at risk, because we keep the player’s goal in mind  which is to play, showcase their skills, and get to play in college!

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Politics

As you are probably aware by now, politics play a huge part of Youth and HS Baseball.

There is often pressure from the club team coach

  • Take these lessons,
  • High Player Fees
  • Fundraising

There is often pressure from the HS coach

  • Play for me in the summer or you won’t play for the HS (that is actually illegal in many states)
  • Lessons
  • Basically ~ “Drinking the Kool-Aid”

Who makes the teams in High School and who gets to play are sometimes mind boggling.  I hear stories all the time about certain kids getting to play, not getting to play, getting cut, and even being told to just simply “stay away.”

As a parent, you know or will quickly find out that one of the first things your son will hear when he gets to high school is that “he is an adult now and the coaches only want to communicate with him directly.” 

Ok, on one level this makes sense.  Some parents are literally over zealous (crazy), but on another level, what is being said is (let me translate that for you) – “Parents, we really don’t want to have any relationship with you so that when we bully your son, you or your son won’t say anything.  If you do, it will cost your kid playing time” – oh wait – “except when we need a check, then we expect to hear from you right away but that is the only time.”

It is all such a power trip and a mind game.  As players and parents, we are left trying to figure out why these things happen, and, I’ll say it again, It’s mind boggling!  Dealing with the fallout from this  type of scenario with your son, should he not be one of the “chosen ones,” is even more difficult.

I realize that the job of the HS Coach is to win for the school.  But here we are again with the Coach or Team Centered Approach.  The damage done by this approach is palpable, tangible and life altering.

BlueChip takes all of the politics out of our teams.

We use our player centered approach in order to determine what is best for each player inside the team spirit.

Here is a great example.  Statistics.

Baseball as a sport is driven by statistics, awards, Hall of Fame, how do I compare, what should my numbers be?   Baseball is all about the numbers/stats.

I majored in Mathematics in College.  I do corporate marketing response analysis for a living.  I get numbers.  They are fun, interesting and in depth, until they aren’t.

In youth Baseball too many times Batting average is the barometer of who gets to play and who doesn’t.  Have you ever noticed that it is usually one parent that keeps the book?  Most of the time that person’s son has an abnormally inflated batting average.  Everyone knows it.  Many times people even talk about it (behind their back of course.)  Same goes for pitchers.  Velocity (a number) and ERA are king – right?

BlueChip as an Academy doesn’t keep stats.  If a particular team keeps them, fine, but we don’t publish those stats outside of that team. The reason why is quite simple.

Our goal for our players is to get to play in College so they can get their degree and have someone else pay for it – right?

As many players as we have placed in college, as many conversations as I have had about individual players with College Coaches, and in as many profiles as we post online – NOT ONE TIME has a college coach asked me a player’s batting average or their ERA.  It has never happened, and I don’t think it ever will.  They don’t care about those stats, because they know they are not a good measure of a players skill or potential at this level.

And quite simply – those stats shouldn’t determine who gets to play and who doesn’t.

BlueChip keeps things quite simple.  If you choose to play for us, and invited to play with us, you are treated just like all of our other players and families.

  • You will pay the same fee
  • You will take the same amount of time off work to get to games, practices and tournaments
  • Your son has the same goal as all the other kids on the team
  • Your son will play the same amount as everyone else

We just don’t want to play the politics.

Let’s keep this simple.  These are your son’s memories (and yours), let’s make them good ones!

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College Recruiting

Ok, this is a big one, College Recruiting.  Since this is the goal of all of our players, we need to spend a lot of time setting this intention, talking about it, visualizing it, and preparing for it.

Most Academies talk about recruiting as a way to entice you to sign up with them.  If this is your oldest or only son playing baseball, this is the talk you want to hear and gravitate towards.  While this sounds good on the surface, you need to be able to differentiate between those clubs that talk about it and those clubs that actually focus on it.

This is an area of the process where a lot of big money mistakes can happen, and many opportunities can be missed.

There are books written on this topic, but let’s touch on just a few of them briefly:

  • Showcase Tournaments
  • Camps/Showcases
  • Profiles/Videos
  • Recruiting Services
  • Understanding the right schools/targets for my son – “The 4 fits”
  • What do college coaches look for in a player
  • Free Money – Good Grades

Showcase Tournaments – this is an interesting phrase.  It means a lot of things to a lot of different people.  Most clubs will have you believe that they are going to play in “showcase tournaments” and that is how your son will be seen.  While this might happen, the truth is very few College Coaches just go to these events.  On the other hand, there are some tournaments that are very well attended by College Coaches.  If you can get verification on which tournaments your club will go to and which College Coaches will attend, then that is a good one.  If on the other hand they are just going to play in a tournament and there MIGHT be Colleges there, please read into that.

Camps and Showcases - We discussed this in an earlier email.  I like the format, but these can be a waste of time and money.  Know which types of schools are a good fit for your son and make sure you attend only those camps where these types of schools will be there.  Single school camps are rarely worth it unless this IS THE SCHOOL your son wants to attend. 

Profiles and Videos - These are a must have!  Can’t go without them. The question is how much do they cost and how do you promote them?  I have seen videos that cost $1000 or more which don’t  even highlight a player in a good way.  On the other extreme, I have done many of our player’s videos with my IPhone, literally, and it works just fine.  Something more in the middle is the ticket.  We provide VERY low cost and high quality video’s for those players who are interested.  BlueChip’s “video guy” was a baseball player himself, so he “gets it.”

Profiles are also needed, the question to ask is who will see that profile?  How will it be marketed?  We like to use the FieldLevel service.  It is FREE for players and we will send your profile out instantly to 1400 college coaches who we are connected to.

Recruiting services - There are many out there and they can be super costly. Sometimes worth the investment, sometimes not.  Use discernment, is my advice.  A service can be helpful if your son is intending to go D1.  All other levels are easily accessible through Field Level and good connections.

I spend time talking with all of our parents about the 4 fits –

  • What level can your son PLAY at in college
  • What does he want to study
  • Does he have a geographic preference (family in GA, have to have a beach, love cold weather)
  • What scholarship money does your family require to make this happen

Once we understand the answers to these 4 questions for your son, we have a better idea of where to promote him.

What does a College Coach look for in a player?  College Coaches continuously ask about skill sets, work habits, character, “coachability" and potential.  They don’t ask about stats like batting average and ERA, as those are a function of who you are playing against and who is keeping the book.  They want to know about foot speed, bat exit speeds, instinct, throwing arm strength, performance under pressure,  are they good in the classroom, easy to have in the dugout, body size and type, and maturity.    And then if all those things are a good fit, they want to see them PLAY. 

Good grades are really important by the way.  EVERY school offers academic scholarships based on academic performance.  Each school has a limited number of athletic scholarship dollars they can give out.  Most teams have 36 players, and they need to spread their athletic scholarship budget across all of them.  Pitchers, catchers and shortstops get most of the money.  I tell my parents to make it easy on them (and your parents).  Get good grades.  They have unlimited academic money to give.  Become a “free” player for the college and yourself.  Do the schoolwork!  It pays off in the end.  I even made one of my sons take 2 extra electives his senior year in HS.  That way, he could achieve 2 more A’s so he could raise his cumulative GPA from a 3.42 to 3.51.  He then received a full ride in college!

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Coaching & Communication

Too often in Youth Baseball I see situations where coaches are overwhelmed by all the functions it takes to run a club team.  There are so many hats to wear, and not all coaches are good at ALL of the following:

  • Player Recruiting
  • Schedule Creation
  • Jerseys, Caps, Insurance, field rentals & Equipment
  • Accounting
  • Player Instruction
  • Communication with Parents
  • On the Field Coaching
  • Planning ahead for next season
  • Booking Hotels and Travel Arrangements
  • Dealing with questions, emails and texts
  • Updating the websites and Facebook
  • Helping players get recruited to play college ball

To run a club team well takes quite an effort.  The issue is that most coaches struggle with many of the functions listed above. 

We ask our BlueChip coaches to handle the following functions only– On the Field Coaching, Player Instruction and some communication with Parents.  BlueChip handles all of the rest.

Two things happen when we do it this way:

  • We avoid “the last minute scramble”
  • The coach can focus his time on the players and not all these other items

As parents, one of the hardest things to deal with are things that we haven’t planned for.

Last minute game or tournament additions to our schedules can really wreck a day or a weekend.  For those of us with multiple children, in many cases this last minute request just is not physically possible (which causes all sorts of other challenges.) Yet, this type of last minute planning is pervasive in Youth Baseball.  I believe it comes from the coach being overloaded with too much to handle.  Now I agree, some of this is unavoidable, but I would say 90% of this type of stress is avoidable with proper planning and coordination.

Overloaded Coaches/Academies also have a tendency to add in last minute or additional fees.  You’ve probably heard it before… “oh, yeah, we forgot.   we need another $150 from everyone, and oh yeah, we need it by yesterday…”  How many times have you gotten that email?  Planning out the entire season from all aspects is the simple way to avoid this scenario.

Finally, as parents we simply NEED communication.  What is going on?  Where do we need to be and at what time, and what can I expect in the future? The more we know as parents the easier our lives become.  I get it, I have 7 kids.  So, I make sure to communicate a ton.

BlueChip tries to take these last minute stressors out of the conversation.  We plan full seasons at a time.  Yes, there are rain outs and make up dates, life is all about change.   But, for all the things we can plan for, we will let you know well in advance.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email or call me.  I look forward to being a part of your son’s baseball career.