Every little kid growing up dreams big. No matter the sport, no matter the goal, no matter the subject, we’ve all dreamed about accomplishing something bigger. For Bob Perales of the San Jose Sting, his dream is helping his young players accomplish theirs.
Perales joined the Sting organization in 2000 when his daughter needed a place to showcase her fastpitch softball abilities. Staying with her all the way from 12u to 18u gold, Perales soaked up a breadth of knowledge about the fastpitch community and the ever complicated process of recruiting.
“It’s changed a lot since we started this thing,” said Perales, who now spends most of his time with the Sting’s 14u teams. “The ages that these girls are being looked at continues to decline, and I want to be there every step of the way so these girls have the best chance at accomplishing their ultimate goals.”
As Perales made the adaptation to the ever-changing world of recruiting, he also made changes in the way that he prepares his players, utilizing Edufii, a computerized application that allows Perales to keep up with his players from long distances.
“This app has really changed the game for me,” said Perales. “Now, I can see what my players are working on while they’re at home. It allows us to practice, even when we can’t meet.”
It’s not just Perales that is taking note of the changing landscape of cloud-based instruction — softball’s nationally known instructional quartet, The Packaged Deal, also makes use of the 21st century innovation. Not only can the Sting check on what their coach has to say, but they call also hear and watch from some of the game’s biggest names.
His modifications in coaching have translated into a great amount of success for the Sting. Last season, at Triple Crown’s TC/USA Nationals in Reno, NV, the Sting rode a wave of momentum right into the championship game of the 16u division. Narrowly taken down by the Oklahoma Exclusive, 6-5, the Sting and their skipper still look back on that moment as the highlight of their summer season.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Lindsey Walljasper, who pitched for Perales in the championship game. “Although it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, I am very proud of what my team and I accomplished.”
“That was a huge moment for us,” Perales said. “Not only was it a great experience for us as a team, but I think it was easily our best tournament of the year.”
“It was exciting to have the opportunity to play at the University of Nevada-Reno,” said Sarah Wulff, a former player of Perales. “Playing in the championship game was an unforgettable experience.”
Wulff has been loyal to the Sting since joining the organization, but the fundamentals of softball aren’t the only tools she’s picked up from Perales.
“I originally joined the Sting because the organization had an excellent reputation,” said Wullf.
“But what stands out significantly from my time with the Sting is respect. I have learned respect for my coaches because of their commitment and willingness to accept nothing but the best that we have to offer. I have learned respect for the players because softball is a team sport and every player holds value and is an essential component to the team’s synergy and productivity. I have learned respect for my family because they have sacrificed so much to provide this rare opportunity and have been my biggest supporters through it all. Respect is what Coach Bob and his staff have taught me and it is applicable in all areas of life.”
This month, Perales and his new batch of 14u talent will make their way to Hemet, California for the 2016 Zoom Into June event. The Sting are no strangers to Triple Crown softball events as Perales recollects contending in TC tournaments for well over 10 years.
“I remember when it was just Tony Rico that ran that tournament by himself,” said Perales. “Ever since Triple Crown and Krista (Crawford) have stepped in, they have rolled out the red carpet for us.
“They have done everything to get us in front of the big coaches and playing on the main fields and we certainly haven’t forgotten it. There are a lot of new ventures out there and a lot of teams are jumping ship to go play in newer tournaments, but we wanted to stick with an organization that has always taken care of us. I’ve always said that we will go where my girls can get the best exposure. Zoom Into June is a tournament that attracts the best competition and the best college coaches.”
Perales and the Sting have showcased their prodigious play over the past decade-plus, but for Perales, it’s always been about the double play. No, not your garden variety 6-4-3 inning ending, get-you-out-of- trouble double play. He’s more interested in getting his players to realize their dreams and then doing everything he can to help accomplish them.
“As in softball and in life,” says Perales. “I tell my girls it’s nice to get the double play, but you have to get the first out.”
While Wulff and Walljasper are on the homestretch of turning their own double plays, Perales has a new crop of youthful talent just trying to get their first out; Zoom Into June marks an early step in that process.
Judging from the success and development from his current Sting players, don’t expect anything less from the new regime.
As Walljasper puts it, “Once you put that San Jose Sting uniform on, there’s no going back.”