Field of Dreams opens doors to one of many summer softball tournaments
Softball teams from across the United States converged on Basehor's Field of Dreams complex Tuesday to begin the AFA Softball National tournament.
Teams from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska, 42 in all, began play Wednesday at the complex, which is hosting the tournament for the third straight year.
The tournament is the largest put on at the complex, generating about $1.2 million total, tournament director Jeremy McDowell said. He said the site is perfect for this type of tournament.
"The main reason we got selected was that we were a Midwest-based complex and the location is ideal for a national tournament because the Kansas City-area is central for the United States," McDowell said.
Part of the reason the tournament does so well is the amenities offered. The teams had an activities day Tuesday, during which players could do skill competitions, trade team pins, play games like the moonwalk and a dunk tank and watch fireworks in the evening. The teams were also treated to a pizza lunch.
Frank Reed, head coach of the Tulsa, Okla., Angels, said all the activities offered helped his team relax before playing.
"All the things for the girls just help take off the competitive edge of the tournament," he said. "We're really out here to have fun."
"It is such a well run tournament and all the things they offer the girls is impressive. My hat's off to Jeremy and everyone that helps put this together for making such a great tournament."
Megan Reed, Frank's daughter, played in the tournament last year with the Angels and told this year's members that didn't go last year what to expect.
"I just told the girls that you will have a lot of fun doing all the different things they have there," she said. "The teams that we play against make it a good time playing as well because they're all good."
McDowell said those features are long in coming. Initial basework began in November, but the past few weeks the full force of preparation has taken effect. He said "hours and hours" have gone into getting the tournament ready for the players.
Despite these preparations, not everything has gone to plan. Joe Lucas, head coach of the Roundrock Blaze from Roundrock, Texas, said his teams had some miscommunication with officials that found his team showing up late to the festivities Tuesday.
"Not everything has gone as planned so far," Lucas said. "The activities were scheduled to begin today at 2 and then they changed it to 3 and when we got here, the events had already started. We've kind of had to scramble around and get the girls signed up for all the events."
While this mistake got the tournament off to a bad start, Lucas said he fully expects it to go great for his team.
"From everything we've heard from other teams, this is supposed to be very well run tournament," he said. "Besides this little scheduling snafu, I expect that the tournament will go really well."
Frank Reed said his team couldn't wait to come back to the tournament after a great experience last year.
"Most of them couldn't wait to come back here," he said. "The girls that came here last year were all excited and although the girls that didn't come last year didn't know what to expect, they had heard from the other girls how fun it was."
With all the great events that are put on, McDowell said the tournament should continue to do well in the future.
"I think it's good from a publicity standpoint because the girls are 10 years old and they still have nine years to play," he said. "If we put on a good show, the girls will remember the tournament and want to come back and play here again.
"I'd say we put on a good all-around tournament."