What age groups does the Firebirds have teams for?
The Firebirds fields teams at the 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, and 18U levels. A player’s age is based on how old they are on December 31 of the softball year.
As an example, for the softball year that runs from August 2019 through July 2020, a player born on June 20, 2006, would be considered to be 13 years old and would play at the 14U (14 and under) age level.
Do you have to tryout?
Yes! The Firebirds hold open tryouts each year in late July or early August. Check our website for details. If you will be out of town, please contact the coach, as a private tryout can often be arranged. Some teams will look to add players during the course of the season. So if you’ve just arrived in town or are interested in seeing if there are immediate opportunities, please contact us.
How much does it cost?
Most Firebirds pay less than $1500 per year, and generally pay at the beginning of the fall, winter, and spring. The amount varies by team, however, based on several factors, especially the number, quality, and level of tournaments played.
These costs do not include travel costs (e.g., hotel, food, gas) or uniforms. A set of uniforms, including practice jerseys, generally costs $300 to $400, but can last multiple years. Players also provide their own equipment (gloves, bats, catcher’s gear, etc.).
How often are games?
As a general rule of thumb, Firebirds teams play tournaments two to three weekends per month. We try to avoid playing three weekends in a row, and we also try to avoid having two weekends off in a row. If rainouts or other scheduling quirks result in too much time off, coaches will often schedule double-headers for a Saturday or Sunday.
How do tournaments work?
There are lots of different types and formats for softball tournaments. But most commonly, teams play 3 (or sometimes 2) “pool” games on Saturday. How the teams do on Saturday determines their draw for bracket play on Sunday, when teams participate in an elimination tournament. You usually will find out your Saturday schedule five to seven days before the tournament begins; you often won’t know the time of your first game on Sunday until Saturday evening, after all the pool games have ended. It’s always best to plan for a full day at the fields both days.
How often does the team practice?
Most Firebirds teams practice twice per week, usually from 6 to 8 pm or 7 to 9 pm.
How much do teams travel?
Most tournaments teams play in are local, generally within an hour’s drive of Fairfax. Most are located in Sterling, Leesburg, and other parks in eastern Loudoun County. Teams generally participate in one “travel” tournament per season that requires a hotel stay. These are usually two to three hours away in places like Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Harrisburg, PA. In addition, most teams participate in a “World Series” tournament in July. These tournaments can last between three and six days and may require a longer drive. In recent years, Firebirds teams have played World Series tournaments in places such as Myrtle Beach, Ocean City, Buffalo, and eastern Tennessee.
Older teams and high level teams playing a more competitive schedule may travel more frequently.
When are the seasons? Do teams play or practice over the winter?
The softball “year” runs fall through summer. Teams usually begin practice around the time school starts. The fall tournament season is generally September through early November. The spring and summer season runs from late March or early April through the end of July. Teams will meet for off-season practice and conditioning beginning in early January until the beginning of the spring season; this usually consists of one weeknight and one weekend practice each week.
Can Firebirds play other sports?
Given the level of commitment necessary to participate in a program like the Firebirds, it is very difficult to play a second sport at the same time. Winter sports are more easy to fit in, and many Firebirds play a second sport such as basketball. If you have concerns about being able to continue with another sport, please talk to a Firebirds coach to see how the schedules align.
Do players have to be on the “college track”?
Many current Firebirds have the talent and desire to play softball in college. And we provide them that opportunity through high level skill development, participation in competitive college showcases and tournaments, and guidance and support throughout the recruiting process, led by our recruiting coordinator, Karen Walker.
Other Firebirds are not interested in playing competitively in college, and we have teams and opportunities for them, too. The Firebirds organization does not pressure or require players to pursue a college softball career.
At all levels and age groups, Firebirds love playing softball and want to challenge themselves with good competition and coaching. They will receive quality coaching focused on building fundamentals and game knowledge, and participate in competitive tournaments.
Who are the coaches? Are they paid?
Consistent with NVGSA policy, all Firebirds coaches are volunteers. Our coaches consist of parents, former college softball and baseball players, and current and former high school and college softball and baseball coaches. They all bring coaching experience, a love of the game, and a passion for helping young athletes develop. Read more about our coaches on the team pages.
Coaches who are not parents may receive stipends to help cover the costs of travel and personal equipment and apparel.
If you are interested in coaching for the Firebirds, please complete the form here.