Youth sports in Littleton, CO part of the Arapahoe Youth League (AYL)

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AYL / Thunder Softball FAQ


 

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) are listed with answers to help our customers better understand Thunder softball. If you have other questions not answered here, see question #22.

 

1. Who may participate in Thunder softball?


Any child from 6 years old to 14 years old (based on child's age as of 12/31/2018).  In most situations we do allow 6-year old’s to play up to age 8. This situation requires a discussion with a Thunder softball representative.


2. When does softball registration occur?


Online individual registration for Thunder softball opens on June 1st.  Registration is usually complete the first week of July or when ages/teams are full.  Typically, previous year players will receive an email reminder about when online registration begins.


3. Why does softball registration occur so early for this Fall sport?


The Thunder are a member of the Arapahoe Youth League (AYL) which has teams participating in youth softball. Each club must define and commit by the middle of July each year as to the number of teams by age and division that will participate in the league. This is required to allow time for the all-volunteer AYL softball board to complete detailed plans for the season including game schedule, number of officials required, game gyms, etc. This also provides ample time for Thunder to acquire and train quality coaches to fill any coaching vacancies.


4. When does the typical softball season run?


Practice typically begins in the middle of July with a 2-3-week pre-season practice schedule. This allows time for the players to get into "softball" shape. The regular season starts with the first games being played on the second weekend of August. The season consists of 10 regular season games and an end of season AYL Fall Classic double elimination tournament. Our AYL Fall Classic season ending tournament is usually completed by the first weekend in October. The season calendar varies year to year by as much as one week.


5. How do I go about registering my child for Thunder softball?


There is only one way to register your child for Thunder softball.

?  Online registration (look for link on the Thunder Softball home page). By signing up online you will also be automatically added to the Thunder email list to receive notices. 

 
6. What is the cost to play Thunder AA softball?


The cost for Thunder softball can change from year-to-year primarily based on our field provider’s adjustments in field usage fees. The cost to play softball can be found on the menu pages under each division.

Registration closes by age group when the teams at that age group are full.  This can happen at any time. 

 

7. What does the registration fee cover?


The fee covers may items including but not limited to:


* Registration costs which are league fees, insurance costs, coach background checks, mailing list costs, etc.
 

* Practice costs such as practice field (indoor & outdoor) usage & permits, coaching and practice equipment.
  

* Game costs such as game gym usage & permits, including weekly gym set up/tear down, official’s costs, website scheduling and score reporting costs, and officials evaluation costs.
 

* Thunder softball operating expenses such as bank fees, credit card fees, ongoing coaching evaluations, coaches training clinics, and education, administration costs, copying, postage, etc.


8. What equipment will I have to purchase for my child to play Thunder softball?


Each individual player is responsible for purchasing his/her own game uniform (approx. $75) and softball cleats (not provided). If purchasing a new cleat please consider purchasing a softball specific cleat, which has a better base specific for softball action. Should you be purchasing new equipment, we encourage you to shop one of our Thunder preferred retail partners for your purchases. Our Thunder preferred retail partner will ensure a proper fit for your child and assist over the years as your child grows to make sure everything still correctly fits.


9. Where do we purchase Thunder softball uniforms?


All Thunder Softball teams must wear the board approved softball uniforms.  The Thunder has one preferred retail partner that is the only retailer allowed to carry our game jerseys and pants (see below). The preferred retail partner also offers a complete line of equipment, practice uniforms, and many accessories for your Thunder softball player!


Denver Athletic Supply
3101 South Platte River Drive
Englewood, Colorado 80110
P – 303-761-7773

 

Retail/Showroom Hours:
Mon.- Fri. 9 AM- 5:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday Closed

Team Sales:
Mon.-Fri. 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
 


10. Where do we purchase individual softball equipment?


The Thunder has one preferred retail equipment partners (see below for address and phone number). The preferred retail partner also offers a complete line of equipment, practice uniforms, and many accessories for your Thunder softball player!  


Denver Athletic Supply
3101 South Platte River Drive
Englewood, Colorado 80110
P – 303-761-7773

 

Retail/Showroom Hours:
Mon.- Fri. 9 AM- 5:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday Closed

Team Sales:
Mon.-Fri. 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

 


11.  How is a new player assigned to a team? Are there tryouts?

A softball player is assigned to a team based on what the players age is on December 31, 2018, school and experience. We attempt to place a new player on a team with similar experience level. Then if there are multiple choices, we will try to match the new player with a team that has other players from the same school or within the middle school feeder system. Priority for placement is based on what date you registered online.

 

Thunder softball players may request to play with a friend or a coach. This can be noted in the notes/comments section of the online registration process. If a team preference is indicated on the registration form, Thunder will endeavor to grant that preference. However, there are other factors such as team level of competitive play, specific team roster openings, etc., that affect that placement. Generally, there will be a conversation between the parents and a Thunder softball representative to ensure correct team placement if a specific team preference is indicated.


Currently, the Thunder does not hold tryouts for any Thunder AA teams. The Thunder reserves the right to change this policy in the future.


12. How are returning Thunder softball players placed on teams?


Returning players who are registered and paid in full by June 15th of the current year will automatically be granted higher priority over new players to Thunder and will generally be assigned to the same team they played on the previous season. The player’s jersey number used by that returning player is also maintained for that player if the registration is completed by June 15th of the current year. Should a returning player fail to register by the June 15th cutoff, they will be placed on a team in the same manner and in the same priority as any new player. Should a returning player wish to change teams for any reason please contact one of the Thunder softball representatives as soon as possible so we can advise and assist you in making the requested change. Please understand that a returning player that wishes to change teams must still register by June 15th of the current year. If registered prior to June 15th, the returning player requesting to change teams will be given priority over any new players requesting that same team. Priority for placement for the returning player requesting to change teams is based on the date you registered online.


13. How many players are on a team?


Team size can vary depending upon the number of kids registering to play but the preferred roster size is 11-12 kids. Thunder has target roster sizes, varying by competitive division of play to ensure minimal financial requirements are met.
 

14. How are jersey numbers dealt with?
 

Thunder will take requests from new players for a specific jersey number or a request for a jersey number change. We attempt to honor those requests if possible. Please note, priority of duplicate numbers requested will go to returning players first.  Please request your specific jersey number or choice of jersey numbers on your registration form.  Finally, if a player requests to change teams in future years to play with friends or school mates and their jersey number is already in use, that transfer player must purchase a new set of game jerseys.


15. Where, when and how often is practice?


The Thunder pay for permits for practice fields primarily from Highlands Ranch Metro Districts, South Suburban, Douglas County Schools and other private schools and organizations. Typically, all of our practice fields are located in the Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree and Littleton area.


Most teams will practice 2-3 times per week in the preseason (July) and could have 1 practice on the weekend. Once the regular season starts, teams will typically practice 2 times a week (August-Oct) with the practice times being 5-9PM during the week and 9AM-10PM Saturday’s and 12-9PM on Sunday’s. The start and end time for practices is determined by the Thunder and generally takes in to account the coaches work schedule as well as the school schedule our players are under. For the most part, the younger the age of the team the earlier and the shorter the practices will run. Generally, practices are 90-120 minutes long.


16. How many games are played? Where and when are they scheduled?


The AYL AA regular season generally consists of ten games. Teams should be prepared to play double header games during the regular season due to the short season.  All teams qualify for the post season double elimination AYL Fall Classic tournament. Beyond the two guaranteed games in the World Series the number of games that a team can play depends on how many games a team can win.  In some cases, teams can play 2-3 games in a day.

The AYL is comprised of Member Clubs establishing teams in the South Metro area communities of Littleton, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, SE Denver, South Aurora, Parker and Castle Rock. Games can be played at any of these locations at specific fields.


Regular season games are scheduled for Saturday's (9AM-9PM) and Sunday's (12-9PM make-up's only) are used if games are rained out. The first regular season game is scheduled for the second Saturday in August. The regular season runs through the end of September. Post season playoffs begin immediately following the conclusion of the regular season and continue with the AYL Fall Classic tournament that is usually completed no later than the first weekend of October. Please understand that games may be postponed by weather, field issues or other problems resulting in game cancelations. Games are typically rescheduled ASAP and can be played on Sunday's.


17. What if we have a family vacation scheduled during the season?


Softball requires significant preparation and practice as well as a strong commitment to the team. Family vacations during the season are highly discouraged. Depending upon team rules, playing time may be impacted because of the time your player misses due to a vacation. You are encouraged to schedule your vacations prior to or after the season to avoid playing time impacts. If you must schedule a family vacation during the season, please inform your head coach as soon as possible to understand how your team is impacted.


18. What if my child decides after signing up that he does not like softball and wants to quit? What is the refund policy?


All registration fees for Thunder softball are 100% non-refundable. If you wish to discuss this policy, please contact one of the Thunder softball representatives.

 

19. Who can be a coach?


Anyone can apply to be a head coach or an assistant coach. All coaching candidates will go through a pre-certification process. The process involves filling out an application, undergoing a background check and completing an interview with the Thunder softball representative. All Thunder coaches are required to attend any mandated yearly AYL & Thunder coach trainings and are encouraged to attend any local coaching clinics if they can as well. Specific coach training and skill/drill information is available to any authorized Thunder softball coach through a contract Thunder has arranged with an outside firm. All Thunder softball head coaches are evaluated annually both by their parents/players on their team as well as the Thunder softball representatives. Retention as a Thunder softball head or assistant coach is offered on a year to year basis based on these and the Softball Director's evaluations. If you are interested in coaching Thunder softball, please contact the Thunder softball representative directly.


20. Does Thunder allow Spring/Summer competitive teams to play in Thunder/AYL for the Fall (started in 2012)?  When does team registration begin? 


Yes, Thunder does support Spring/Summer competitive teams to play AYL Fall softball.  These competitive teams will be entered in AYL's highest level of play. 

Team registration for Fall softball opens on June 1st and ends on August 2nd.  Please contact a Thunder softball representative to be emailed a link to the online team registration area.


21. How can I help?


There are many volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering your time to the Thunder organization, please contact the Thunder softball representative directly.


22. If I have additional questions who do I contact?

 

Questions:  Contact our volunteer softball director