Congratulations to our Softball Coach of the Week - Jeff Zdancewicz
Softball Coach of the Week: Jeff Zdancewicz is the EVP of Softball.
How long have you been EVP of softball and how many years were you on the board prior to EVP?
I served on the Softball Board for the past 6 years starting as Fall Director, then League Director of 8U Minors, 10U Majors, 12U Juniors, then AVP of Softball and then EVP of Softball. I’ve been the EVP of Softball for the last 3 seasons.
What age are your teams? What leagues do they play in?
Head coach of the 12U Softball Junior League Clemson Tigers and the 15U Softball Storm
When did you know you wanted to coach at SSYS? How long have you been coaching?
I started coaching baseball right out of college when I finished playing, then started coaching softball when my youngest started Rookie ball at SSYS. Been coaching every year at SS Softball since 2012, most years spring, summer and fall. I always wanted to coach youth sports and am so lucky to have been involved coaching at SS Softball!
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I love all of it – the practices, the preparation, the pre-game, the games themselves, the post-game talks, everything. I enjoy seeing the girls progress in their skills, I enjoy seeing the friendships form – it reminds me of all the guys I played with from Little League through College and how those bonds are formed. If I had to say one thing – it would be seeing when a girls hard work pays off – whether that is a hit or a play in the field or a new skill that shows up in the game or a championship win or whatever – when what they worked on and for shows up – and that look comes across their face – it is awesome to see and feel as a coach.
How do you go about motivating your players?
I tell them on the first day that I am a LOUD coach and I am going to push them hard to make them better, then I do it all year long. And when they succeed – big or small – doesn’t matter – when they succeed, I am their biggest cheerleader. Positive re-enforcement. Letting them know I chose them – I could have picked someone else - but I chose them in the draft because I believe in them. It goes a long way to building some trust between us. One of my favorite things to yell on a ball field is ‘no one better’ to a player who is about to get in the box or toe the rubber. Motivate them by letting them know you believe in them!
What skills/characteristics do you look for in your players?
“Coachable” is the one thing I look for first and foremost. If they listen and want to get better – I want them on my team. Being a good teammate who cheers and supports their team too is awesome. When all else is equal – I like girls that either swing really hard – there is nothing like a powerful, aggressive, bad intentioned swing at the ball…or girls that have hand to eye coordination already – with one or both of those things – I know we can work on the swing fundamentals and help them feel confident in the box!
What is the biggest challenge you've had as a coach and how did you overcome it?
Time Commitments - it can be challenging to coach one kid and get to see another play, and balance work/life/volunteerism at times. But it can be done – I promise. Also – Rainouts/Reschedules – those can always be a challenge to get 12 families re-organized as schedule changes – but I would not change my time at the park coaching and volunteering for anything.
What advice would you give to new coaches?
Enjoy the moments you get to spend with your girls at the park – it is important to them and you cannot get that time back so enjoy the time! Engage with the girls on day one on their level – get to know them – let them get to know you. Be present and build that trust with them that you are there for them not yourself. Seek mentorship – don’t let ego get in the way – it is still your team and you can coach it how you see best to , but getting advice from others that may have had to solve an issue you are seeing already – like a weak swing, or a sidearm throw, or how to balance a lineup with run limits, or just may have developed some fun drills that also build fundamentals – you can always take it or leave it – but the volunteer coaches that have been around for a while are all willing to help. I have gotten practice plans and drills and videos and even had other coaches come to my practices to help with a specific skill.
When not rooting for your SSYS team, who is your favorite school/sport team and/or players?
Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Bullets (Yes I know some call them the Wizards now – but I never will)
What has been your most memorable SSYS moment?
Too many to mention…the look on my oldest’s face when she earned her first pieces of hardware, my oldest’s first hit off kid pitch is a special memory, her first Cyclone selection and seeing her reaction was awesome, her 15U Storm Championship to close that season out, - my youngest’s first Storm Championship at 8U, her shutout to win a GSA tourney this year and her last game this 12U Rec Season finally winning a Rec championship after 8 seasons, mostly the days sitting around watching my girls and their pals between games at their tournaments – seeing them grow up with that same core group of friends at our park is what makes Morgan Falls so special and SSYS such a family. The friendships I have formed with the families of those girls has been incredible. Oh, “creating” a tradition of teammates bombing a Cyclone birthday girl with water-balloons in the summer is a memory I want to cherish too. Not necessarily a moment – but I will always remember the one on one time I got to spend with my girls at the park.
When you are not at the fields, what do you enjoy doing most?
Like a lot of the other coaches we have profiled – feels like I am always at the fields, but when I am not - I enjoy good food and spending time with my family. I also am head coaching now the Roswell HS Junior Hornets Feeder team for the 3rd year.
See our Past Coaches of the Week
6/17/2019 Robert Clayman
6/7/2019 Tony Giardino
6/3/2019 Chris Foster
5\/28/2019 Gregg Worley
5/19/2019 Dakara Kier
5/12/2019 Allen Johnson
5/6/2019 Jonathan Worrell
4/29/2019 Corey Patterson
4/22/2019 Courtney Sowerby
4/15/2019 Laura West
4/8/2019 Mike Hopper