On The Road With LeagueApps: WWBA World Championship
Here at LeagueApps, we live and breathe youth sports. Staying true to that claim, we’ve made a concerted effort in 2018 to engage with as many industry experts, enterprising entrepreneurs and game changers in the youth sports universe via webinars, podcasts, live events, and conventions. Last week, two of our baseball experts, Arden McWilliams and Paul Cusick, hit the road to participate in the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, FL. Here are their thoughts on the event.
Full story on Florida Burn’s WWBA World Championship https://t.co/R4sXCYi8xh
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) October 22, 2018
“Do y’all have a bid to Jupiter this year?” “Have you ever won Jupiter?” “Will my kid have an opportunity to go to Jupiter if he plays for you?”
If you’re shopping around for the best high school travel team in your area and you’re a savvy baseball parent, you ask about Jupiter. Perfect Game is the gold standard of elite travel baseball and exposure for players seeking an opportunity to play at the next level, and every October they host a series of championships called the WWBA (World Wood Bat Association) World Championships for the top high school prospects in North America. The most well-known and well-scouted event is the 17U WWBA event in Jupiter, most often referred to as just “Jupiter”.
When you enter the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter (home of the Marlins and Cardinals spring training) you see banners along the dugout fences with eight foot tall images of household names like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Zack Greinke, Josh Donaldson, and Adam Jones all rocking their Perfect Game gear and pre-Big League babyfaces. Any unoccupied real estate between fields and parent spectators becomes a crowded parking lot for hundreds of golf carts driven by MLB scouts, college coaches, and amateur agents all hoping they will land the next MLB all-star.
The format is a “team tournament” complete with pool play and playoff brackets, but it’s all about the prospects. Each year it becomes more difficult to qualify as a team because the only sure-fire way to get a bid is to prove that your roster will be attractive to scouts. Some teams combine their best players with another organization’s best players to meet this criteria, others send their best players to compete on “scout teams” that are generally hand-picked by the area scouts of an MLB franchise and coached by an established travel ball personality with that kind of access. Only a select few teams are stacked enough to show up with a core group of players who have played together all summer.
In 2017, Paul and I made the trip to watch six LeagueApps partners compete in Jupiter. This year we flew down to watch 23 of our own compete to be crowned the best amateur travel team in the world, including top 10 ranked CBA Marucci (#1), East Coast Sox (#5), Scorpions (#6), and San Diego Show (#10). 88 teams were divided into 22 pools with games beginning Thursday and running through the championship on Monday. By Sunday, 8 of the 32 teams advancing to the championship bracket were LeagueApps loyal. Of the final 8, only CBA Marucci, East Coast Sox, and FTB remained, with East Coast Sox advancing to the final 4.
In the end, our biggest takeaway was to compete with the best you have to offer the best product. These teams are only as good as their best players and they only retain the best if they can consistently provide those players and their families with an elite experience. With the pace of innovation in the game today, an elite experience requires elite technology. Whether that’s a better website to showcase top prospects, an easier way to collect payment from parents for these top events, or an app to help coaches better communicate with families during these events, technology is no longer a luxury, it’s the expectation.