How the NPF's Bandits Are Promoting Softball in Chicago

The Chicago Bandits organization is doing whatever it can to promote the game of softball in and around Chicagoland. Part of the the National Pro Fastpitch team's growth strategy is through a program called Bandits of Tomorrow in which local youth teams can come out and play a game in the pro facilities prior to a Bandits game.

“We started the Bandits of Tomorrow (in 2010), our last year in Elgin,” Bandits General Manager Aaron Moore said. “We wanted to see what kind of interest we got, and when we moved here (Rosemont), it slowly started to grow.”

The program has turned into a big outing for a lot of teams.

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“They come here play their game, tailgate, and then come to our game,” Moore said. “Our first year here we did 30 of these games. This year we will do 94.”

Any age group can participate, and the team fees include an umpire and tickets to the Bandits game later that evening.

“The biggest thing for us is that it gets people to the ballpark to buy tickets,” Moore said. “These people are staying and making a day of it in Rosemont, and I think the city is happy because they are going to their restaurants and shopping in the mall. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The Athletic Barn training facility in Wheeling, Illinois, sent several teams to play at The Ballpark at Rosemont in July.

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“This was the best day ever,” said softball coordinator Kelly Urban. “I try to encourage my program to be really family oriented, and it’s really cool to see all my teams and parents having fun together.”

Last year was the first year Athletic Barn participated in the program.

“I put my 14 and under girls here last year and it was just magical,” Urban said. “It’s giving these girls the opportunity to know what the next level looks and feels like. Once that happened, I knew I wanted all four of my teams to end the next season here.”

Urban scheduled four games back-to-back and then tailgated in the parking lot following the last game.

To cap off the night, the Bandits take photos with the teams that participated earlier in the day.

“It’s really great for these girls,” Urban said. “Having them come here is really inspiring for them and a really cool team bonding experience too.”

For more information visit: http://www.chicagobandits.com/clinics/tomorrow/

From GameChanger and Maren Angus. 

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