Frequently Asked Questions
Thinking about trying out for Thunder Fastpitch softball?
Why should my young athlete choose Thunder Fastpitch over other programs?
We believe that choosing the right travel program is an important decision and comes down to the type of experience you’re looking for. If you’re looking to play 100 games a year, travel all over the country, and play in showcase events, we’re probably not the right fit because we don’t do those things. But if you’re looking for an inclusive experience, one that has softball at the center but is about so much more than that, Thunder Fastpitch is for you.
We look for players that want to be a part of our Family, ones that want to learn how to play the game the right way and have a ton of fun doing it. Winning is important, but it’s not everything, and our goal isn’t to win as many games as possible when they’re 10 years old, but instead to prepare each player to win as much as possible as they get older.
We believe that helping our young athletes build relationships off the field leads to higher confidence and better performance on the field, so in addition to standard practice and game experiences, we organize numerous events to get our teams together outside of practice so that every player truly becomes a part of our Family. We invite you to take a look at our Instagram page to get a sense of what we’re all about.
Finally, our approach works -- Thunder teams have earned Top 3 finishes in more than half of all the tournaments we've participated in and have won multiple Championships across levels. If you remove first year teams from that statistic (since first year teams inherently struggle initially), that percentage rises to almost 70%. The point is that many programs solely prioritize winning and haven’t achieved this level of success, so we are incredibly proud of our young athletes for their success on and off the field.
Where are games and practices played?
We practice and play home games at fields in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, and Wheeling. This allows us to accommodate players from all over the area with fields that are convenient for both players and coaches.
How do you support multi-sport athletes?
What is the Junior Thunder program?
The Junior Thunder program is our player development program offered to younger (non-travel) players that are looking to train during the winter ahead of their house league season. The program is led by current Thunder coaches with support from experienced Thunder players and outside instructors. Junior Thunder players are also invited to participate in our House All-Star Team program, which allows house league players to play in a few travel level tournaments over the summer!
Speaking of outside instructors, do you have relationships with any?
Yes, given our reach in the area, we can recommend multiple instructors across all disciplines including pitching, hitting, catching and fielding. We also have strong ties to area high school coaches and utilize their input as we put together our training programs to maximize our player's performance when they reach high school. In fact, 100% of Thunder players eligible to play on their high school team have made the team. All outside coaches played college (or higher) softball and one even played for Team USA in the olympics!
Where is winter training held?
We utilize two training facilities, one in Wheeling and one in Mount Prospect. Both provide excellent space to work on fundamentals across all facets of the game.
How do I get involved in coaching for the Thunder?
Do you love the game of softball and have a passion to help young people get better on and off the field? Come join our experienced, fun-loving, and dedicated coaching team. We’d love to learn more about you and are always looking for team and player development coaches.
If you are a former travel softball player looking to get started in coaching or a parent interested in moving beyond house league into the ranks of travel softball, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about opportunities to begin your coaching career with Thunder Fastpitch.
What is the fee structure?
Thunder Fastpitch annual costs vary based on team composition, coaching structure, and anticipated schedule. Our costs are all-inclusive though, meaning no hidden fees, and we offer flexible payment structures to fit your needs.
How far do you travel for games and tournaments?
We generally don’t participate in games/tournaments farther than an hour away. Some exceptions do occur – our teams have played up in Lake Geneva, Beloit, the Wisconsin Dells, and Crown Point to name a few – but no non-local travel is planned without parent/team discussion.
We haven’t played travel sports before, how does the schedule vary from house league?
Each coaching staff will assess their team’s overall talent level so that we can build a schedule that is competitive and appropriate based on the team composition. First year teams generally play more in the fall to help adjust to the increased game speed and build training plans for the winter whereas returning teams may use the fall to refine skillsets and play a few tournaments.
Our fall season runs from mid-August through the end of October, then players are off until January. Winter training begins then and teams have the option to play a winter event if they decide to, but most games occur in late April, May, and June. The main difference between travel and house league scheduling is tournament weekends, where you might have 4 – 5 games packed into a weekend (which wouldn’t happen in house). Practice and game schedules otherwise aren’t significantly different during the spring season.