2017 AWARD WINNERS
TEAM OF THE YEAR
12 & uNDER mAJOR | kansas city, mo | view team
The Dirtbags Baseball team (53-11) played in several USSSA tournaments in MO, KS. They ended their 75 game season at 65-10 winning their last 36 games in a row. They are currently ranked #1 under USSSA.
They have shown a lot of heart and hustle this season overcoming teammate injuries and battling back in tournaments. Over half of the team has played baseball for over 7 years together.
These boys work hard on and off the field during the season to make themselves as strong as possible and prepared for the next year.
They partake in the Big Brother/Big Sister program as well as the Challenger Program at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City which gives kids of all abilities the opportunity to play sports, learn to swim and try new things. The team is also responsible for maintaining every aspect of their practice facility.
Top Gun Academy - Turner
14 & uNDER a | Lee's Summit, MO | view team
Top Gun Academy - Turner was by far one of the youngest teams in the MW playing 14A, with over 80% of the roster made up of 7th graders.
The majority of the team has been together for more than 3 years and they have unbelievable chemistry. In USSSA play, they went 28-9 with two tournament championships. They won the Top Gun Qualifier, a tournament in which they defeated the #32 ranked team in the Flo Softball national rankings 3-0 behind great pitching and defense.
Flo Softball ranked this team as #60 in the national 14U rankings. They competed in several of the top tourneys in the country, including Top Gun Invite and the World Fastpitch Championships.
As a team, they posted a 3.8 GPA, and also supported the KC community with their work at The Harvesters. Additionally, they made blankets as a team for donation to Children's Mercy Hospital, and have donated some equipment and uniforms to a city youth program.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
BC KC Rawlings Prospects | 12 & Under Major
Easton has evolved into one of the team’s top leaders, not only in stats, but also in the dugout. The other players look up to him and he is always a great teammate. He is gracious in defeat and humble in victory. His work ethic on the field and during practice is well beyond his 13 years. He understands the “team” concept and is constantly striving to help his teammates get better.
Easton is an exceptional athlete and is on competitive teams in basketball, baseball and football. Although he is a great athlete, he is an even better person.
Easton volunteers his time helping out at baseball practices for his younger brother’s team on many occasions. He does not hesitate to help with whatever is asked of him during those practices.
Easton is willing to be a positive leader no matter who is watching, front row or back row, on the bench or on the field he is willing to do what he knows is right. That character spills over in encouragement to other team mates and class members. He is never too focused on himself to give another student a high five or some positive words. That kind of empathy is rare in a young man this age and speaks to the type of mature heart he has. Easton’s class, his work ethic, eager spirit, and servant heart raises the bar for the whole team, the whole class, and all others who interact with him.
He is a straight A student and just like on the baseball field, he is a leader in the classroom. He was hand-selected this year by his teachers as a 7th grader to meet all the incoming 6th grade students at his Middle School and show them around.
sidekicks | 9 & Under
Kira has only played competitive softball for 2 years now. This season in her 1st year of 10U ball, Kira had a solid season. She batted .530 on the year and had 3 home runs (out of the park). The furthest being on a 185 foot fence. She is small in size and that makes her home runs even more surprising. Just a few weeks ago at the Monster Bash Kira hit her 6th home run in 10U ball. It was estimated at around 250ft.
On defense it was her first full year to pitch and she had 125 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched. On the season she threw 3 no-hitters. When she wasn't pitching, Kira stepped up as a utility player.
Kira also guest played in 5 tournaments giving her a total of 82 games played for the 2017 season. She played in the 10A/B division at the MO/KAN All-State Games and went 2 for 2 on the day a double and a triple along with 3 put-outs on defense and pitching a couple of innings giving up no runs.
Off the field, Kira spearheaded a fundraising effort for a classmate of hers that had a brain tumor. Her family's foundation raised more than $15,000 in 3 months for the little girl. Kira was a huge part of this effort. She was 9 when the campaign started. A model student in school and a model citizen in the community.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
ybc 13 BlacK
Stan started coaching at 22 years old when a friend of his received an internship opportunity at a youth sports organization. Stan immediately volunteered to coach.
“Baseball, for me growing up, was an escape from an abusive home life. I can remember vividly the feeling of relief and weight off my shoulder when I crossed the white lines. I had coaches I felt loved me and cared about me, and when I crossed the white line onto the field, everything felt better and life was good. There were at least two boys on my first team who needed exactly what I did growing up. It was an incredibly fulfilling experience for me to share my own “white line” story with them and you could see it hit home with them. I was hooked on coaching and working with youth in any way I could.” - Stan Ferguson
After Stan and his wife purchased their first home in a rough neighborhood, Stan took it upon himself to actively change the lives of the kids around him. The next season he provided his own team (rather than had a team provided by the association), made up of these neighborhood kids. When the “per player” cost and equipment quickly became an issue for these boys, Stan did all he could, utilizing himself and his own resources to make it work. He tied playing time to grades and behavioral success, and it made a world of difference. Stan worked them hard. He was even harder on them, but they knew he loved them and cared about them and did so because of it.
In 2008, Stan was simultaneously coaching a very competitive fastpitch team, FCS Angels, when his son became old enough to play baseball. All it took was one season of watching serious “Daddy Ball” baseball before the FCS Warriors were back with a new head coach - Stan Ferguson. What started out as a 9AA team, quickly worked up an undefeated 11AAA season and eventual reclassification to 11 Major. After their 12u season, he and the boys joined the YBC organization. The facilities and extra coaching was exactly what allowed the boys to be able to continue to grow and develop.
At the end of the boys’ 13U season, Stan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Cancer. The Cancer had spread to his lungs, liver, clavicle, lymph nodes and femur. Stan had a long standing track record of never missing a tournament, and this news wouldn’t change that. Despite what the doctors said, he was still there every weekend coaching those boys. Last July, Stan’s femur snapped, and the injury resulted in a hip replacement.
For the first time in over 25 years, Stan missed a tournament while he was in the hospital recovering. Despite his struggling, his boys had his back. After the championship game, they ALL showed up at the hospital with their gold rings (one for Stan, too), and their “Stan Strong” shirts. Stan spent the rest of the season coaching from his wheelchair.
He will take next season off from coaching to focus on his health. “I’ve had good reports that his clinical trial treatment is working and I have no doubt God is going to provide me a second chance. I will be back to coaching.” - Stan
Kansas Renegades | 12 & Under B
Bobbie is said to be one of the most respected coaches in KS by opposing teams. She is always very giving and polite to the umpires and other coaches, and is always encouraging her girls to give 110% at everything they do.
Bobbie puts her whole heart into coaching her girls. She always hustles, always stays positive, and expects the girls to lift one another up. She has been praised for how the girls know the fundamentals of softball and always provides opportunities for them to grow.
She coaches her girls with an approach that is firm, as all young girls need, but direct and encouraging. She coaches them on offense and on defense during every pitch, not just when the game is close or they are winning. She congratulates a struggling player on the smallest of victories to boost their confidence while challenging her more competitive athletes with difficult skills. She commands respect on the diamond. She always knows the rules and she makes sure her athletes know them, too. Her dedication every weekend is without fail.
Bobbie connects with each of the girls and spends countless hours working with her team and finding extra opportunities to help educate and train those who want them.
Bobbie played for the Durham Dragons in the inaugural 1997 Women's Professional Fastpitch (WPF) league. Because of this she is able to help the girls mentally to understand what it takes to play at that level. Her love for the game and for the girls is unmatched and uncompromised by a winner or loss.
DEMONS FASTPITCH | 14 & uNDER a
Over the past two and half years, Ella Teno has played softball to survive while battling and beating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma three times. Ella has undergone a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy three times. She has been a symbol of strength and inspiration, returning to softball each time she’s been in remission with the team success as her first concern.
Ella has united her team through adversity and inspired a community to be “Ella Strong.” Her positivity and winning personality is apparent every day as she takes on the greatest fight of her life.
On January 3, 2017, PET scans showed Ella was cancer free and from there she began a year of maintenance chemo. On April 26, Ella fractured her tibia and she continued to be resilient through her recovery. Currently, Ella is undergoing maintenance chemo and she will be released for softball once she rebuilds bone density. She is anxious to not only support her softball family from the dugout, but also on the
field, catching for Demons Fastpitch.
13 & Under
The boys are taught, as they grow, to understand there is more to life than baseball. The team always prays on Sunday before games, does fundraising and donates their time for charity. The boys always looks forward to the time together outside the field because that means most likely they are doing something to help someone else.
For the last 7 years, the Mudcats have made it a priority to fundraise for Breast Cancer Awareness and the Stephanie Vest Foundation (the foundation offers financial and emotional support to parents facing a cancer crisis). Over $10,000 has been raised to date. Proceeds from the fundraising benefit Kansas City metro cancer patients and their families. They donate their time at the annual “Pink Laundry 5K Run,” by handing out water and medals to the runners. During baseball tournaments, the Mudcats wear pink jersey to raise awareness and fundraise by approaching people and describing their mission to help anyone batting Breast Cancer. Their coach, Bubba Prewitt, has cultivated an environment of competitiveness on the field and community support off the field.
16 & uNDER
3N2 Force 16U dedicates their season each year to Stop Bullying, wearing jerseys to honor the memory of two girls who took their own lives as a result of bullying. Additionally, the girls distribute #iambethany wristbands to opponents after games.
Most recently, they’ve raised $4,000 for their upcoming season, but instead of using that money for tournaments they spent it on an anti-bullying rally for Bethany. They flew her mom in and brought in a national speaker from New York. The rally drew almost 75 teenage girls to raise awareness of teenage bullying and its effects. 3N2 also brought an Omaha victim, out to Kansas City to spend a tournament with them as a special guest.
Additionally, they’ve put together an outreach program in which they mail personal letters to victims anywhere in the country. In the past, they’ve taken many local young ladies under their wings who have been bullied. When Force heard about bully victim Mallory Grossman, who committed suicide at the age of 12, the girls reached out to her mom who just recently traveled from New Jersey to Kansas to watch them play at the 2017 Fall Brawl in honor of Mallory.
Below are links to news stories on the team’s Anti-Bullying campaigns: