The mission of ESAA’s Thunder Baseball Program is to provide an opportunity for ESAA players to compete at a higher level of competition. We aim to develop players that will contend at the high school level and beyond.
We are committed to continuing the strong sense of community that is the hallmark of ESAA.
We believe we offer a very competitively priced travel baseball program, largely due to the generosity of the coaches in donating their valuable time.
Thunder is ESAA’s house all star team program. Thunder players, 8U-11U, are required to play in ESAA’s house league program. Thunder players, 12U and above, are not required to play in ESAA’s house league program. Thunder teams play against other house all star teams in the North Shore Baseball League (NSBL). See website for details (http://travelballnorthshore.com/). Depending on scheduling, the season can start as early as May and end as late as early-August. The Regular season is about 16 games, half home and half away. Communities in NSBL are in the North and Northwest suburbs (see site for details). Games are on the weekdays and weekends, typically two a week. Usually an A and a B team are formed for 9U-13U, with the 8U team fielding two equally weighted teams. However, two equally weighted teams could be formed at any level and play in either an A or B division.
Coaches: Coaches are chosen after the team’s players have been chosen. They are not paid coaches but are parent volunteers.
Birth date cutoff: We use NSBL’s birth date cutoffs (May 1st), and do not allow for players to ‘play up’. This is due to the difficulty in creating and applying objective criteria in order to determine which player’s should and should not ‘play up’. We’ve found this method to be consistent with other all star programs.
Cost: Ranges from $150-500 depending on the type of uniforms ordered, # of tournaments entered, and off season training. A non-refundable deposit for the full time travel team of $100 will be required, date TBA. All fees are due by April 1st.
Rosters: Typically 12 players but may vary depending on the circumstances.
Practices and Tournaments: Both of these are at the discretion of the coaches. Expect Thunder practices during and after the ESAA house season. Historically, teams average 2-3 tournaments per year in addition to the NSBL schedule.
Thunder Full Time Travel Team: At the discretion of the coaches, and again in consultation with the parents, 12U teams and above can field a full time travel team. This would entail playing in one of the local travel baseball leagues, where the seasons run from Mid-April to Mid-July. There is no requirement for full time travel teams to play in the house league.
Tryouts: These are held late August/early September. We hire independent judges (the same every year) to keep the judging objective and consistent. All kids at every age will go through 5 drills: Infielding (fielding ground balls at short and throwing to 1st), Outfielding (catching flyballs and hitting cut off man), Batting (hitting off a pitching machine), Speed (timed from home to 1st and 2nd to home), and Pitching (throw pitches off the mound to catcher). Depending on the number of kids that tryout, tryouts last 1.5-2hrs. Players may tryout on multiple tryout dates if they wish. Keep in mind that we take into account house evaluations in deriving an overall score. So if your child performed well during the regular season, this will be captured in their overall Thunder score.
Questions?: Please contact Chad Henson or Mike McManus at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com respectively.