Today we’d like to introduce you to A.J. Robinson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us A.J. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started The Factory Fastpitch Club in 2013 with a vision of creating an elite travel organization in San Diego that would be able to compete with the bigger more successful clubs in Orange County and Los Angeles that were taking some of San Diego’s top talent away from our city. The overall climate in our sport at that time was that you needed to play on certain teams from those areas to be seen and recruited by top colleges. San Diego has a lot of great coaches and teams that have been very successful for a long time and many are still around doing a great job but it is definitely frustrating for our top players to feel that they need to get into a car and drive 5+ hours round trip to go to lessons and practices with these clubs. I have experience with these car trips as my family used to live in West LA and my daughter did modeling and acting. When we moved back to San Diego we tried to continue to go on auditions but the car rides are brutal through all of the traffic. I know how draining those drives can be on kids and families and I knew that we needed to get stronger in San Diego and keep our local talent from feeling that they needed to drive up to LA to be competitive and to be recruited.
Our goal from day one was to become the top club in San Diego and to be able to compete nationally with the top teams from across the country. It is wide open to interpretation as to what defines the top club so we have our criteria for what we feel will define us. Some of the criteria includes winning, recognition from our colleagues, kids being recruited to play in college and many other on field achievements. The other part of the equation is a little bit down the road for us as we want to see how the life skills we are teaching our players today helps them with decisions that they will be making as adults. Playing athletics is a great vehicle to learn valuable life lessons that hopefully will help our players build up their resumes, learn how to compete for jobs, be able to deal with failures and have high self-esteem. This is the first year that we will have Seniors playing for us and it will take time to see if we have helped them grow into the future leaders our community will need but I am very confident that we are doing a great job of helping them prepare.
Ten years from now, I expect to have a large number of returning players come and coach teams, give talks to our younger players and help them along their path to success. At that point we will truly be able to evaluate what we are accomplishing and if we are truly the top softball club in San Diego and hopefully in the nation.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road to success is always bumpy and if you can’t handle the bumps along the way you will never make it. You have to understand that you can plan things out on paper and have everything worked out but when the changes come up you have to be able to adapt and make running changes and not get caught up in things going off plan. Sometimes it is very difficult to deal with. Entrepreneurs are idealists and have great visions in our heads and we want things to go the way we visualize it. Unfortunately, things change and we have to adapt. I have found over many years of being an entrepreneur that when these bumps come along you have a little pity party for yourself but then you regroup and work through it and it almost always becomes better than what you had originally planned. Growing pains tend to make us stronger and better.
One of the biggest hurdles for our club is that we have only been around for 4 years. This year is the first year that we have any high school seniors playing for us. Our competitors that have been around for a long time can post about players going to college. Many of our competitors like to point that out to potential players but we are getting players recruited and in the coming days we will be able to let everyone know about our players that are getting recruited by top universities across the country.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Our club does a great job of developing softball skills along with teaching life lessons. We currently have eighteen teams. Some of our teams are very competitive on a national basis and others are for development. There are a lot of great kids out there that love to play softball and we have a home for most of them. Sometimes we run out of spaces on our rosters but for the most part we like to keep kids around that enjoy playing softball.
As a coach, it is great to work with kids that want to be on the field. I try and spend as many hours with our players as possible. I attend practices and games with all of our teams to make sure that they all feel that they are an important part of our club. Some of the most fun is with the younger players that have lots of energy and just love being able to slide, play in the dirt, work on fancy high fives or create new cheers. They help take some of the strain of running the club away and help me remember how much I just love the game.
Softball is a great game and the sport is growing very fast on a national basis. The ratings for women’s college softball are way up nationally and I feel like they will continue to grow. Many baseball fans are falling in love with the game of softball. It is a quicker game with a lot more action and spirit. Traditional baseball fans love that there is bunting, stealing, strategy involved that is missing in professional baseball today.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego is absolutely one of the best cities in the world for amateur sports. We have perfect weather year-round and some great facilities to use. I would like to see San Diego build a baseball / softball complex with 8-12 fields that would be capable of holding large national events here. Teams would flock to San Diego if we had the complex to hold tournaments like these.
One of the only disadvantages of being in San Diego is that we have to create windows of down time for our players to avoid overuse injuries and burnout. Players in the Midwest and northern states have cold weather that helps create downtime. We build in time off in December and August and our coaches regulate our teams and make schedule adjustments based on fatigue and burnout. It is not easy as some players and parents are very motivated and don’t want to take time off but we feel it is vital to long term success for our athletes.
- Website: www.factoryfastpitch.com
- Phone: 858-449-3438
- Email: AJ@factoryfastpitch.com
- Instagram: thefactoryfastpitchclub
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thefactorysoftballclub
- Twitter: @factorysoftball