Established in 1960 as the Schaumburg Boys Baseball Association, with only a few teams and some dedicated volunteers, SAA was off and running. In the mid 1970’s, softball attained separate sports status. During the first couple of years, membership in softball was about 170 players. In 1976, the first tournament teams were formed from the recreational program. There was a team formed from the 12’s and one from the 14’s. Each competed only in ASA Metros, and, if qualified, went to ASA Regionals. In 1991 and 1992, the quality of the tournament teams advanced to the point where the girls wanted to play competitive ball only, as they won the ASA Metros in 1991 and 1992 and competed in Nationals. In 1993, travel teams were formed. The girls on the very first travel team chose Sluggers from a list of names gathered, and the fun began. The SAA has grown to 10 sports and over 6,000 registrants.
The oldest known Slugger to play softball in college is Stacy Sher, who graduated Wheeling High School in 1995 and played at North Dakota. Stacy introduced “the puke drill” to the Sluggers!
Sher (top far left) came back to help coach the Sluggers in 1996
Later to become runner-up champions, the 13u Sluggers begin their long climb to the top of the Softball world. Third from the right (sitting) is future U of Chicago player Rachel Cohen.
In 1995, the SAA contacted the Commissioner of NSA and secured the NSA State Tournament. For 3 years, SAA ran the tournament, which grew from 98 teams in the first year to 248 teams by the 3rd year. In the meantime, the SAA hosted exhibition games with the 1996 USA Olympic Team. The event was the official opening and dedication of Olympic Park. The first game was played against a college summer team from NIU; the second game featured an area all-star team primarily composed of 18u Sluggers. The park was dedicated on that great day in May.
Gold Medalist Michelle Smith pitched against the Slugger dominated all-stars
Slugger Carla Hill will retire a member of the USA Olympic Team in the second game of a double header
Since that event 20 years ago, the Slugger program has continued to improve in instruction, facilities, and direction. In 2003 and again in 2010, the Sluggers were the NSA’s Runner-up National Champions. During the past decade, Slugger teams have reached the top 10 at nationals several times. Coach Gerry Mauro, himself a coach on a 3 time ASA Gold Championship Team, held several clinics for the Slugger players and coaches. Currently, the Sluggers are trained by Coach Cindy Bristow, a world renowned coach, trainer, and teacher. The Sluggers rent their own hitting facility and train 2-3 times a week during the off season.
On December 4, the Schaumburg Athletic Association Sluggers were given the highest honor the National Softball Association’s State Board could give, admittance into the NSA Hall of Fame. 10 Slugger coaches made the drive to Kankakee, IL to accept the award. The program is the only travel club that has been inducted into the hall from fast pitch softball.
Said NSA State Commissioner Gerry Gund : “The Sluggers have had numerous top 10 national finishes in the last 8 years, including 2 runner-up national championships at the “A” level, and 3 top ten finishes, all at the 16u and 18u levels. The program, as part of the Schaumburg Athletic Association, has brought many firsts to their city. In 1996, Olympic Fields was first opened to the USA Olympic Team. The exhibition double header featured a college team from DeKalb and a local all-star team composed mostly of Sluggers and their coaches competing against the USA Olympic Team. Hundreds of people braved bad weather to witness the games. The Schaumburg Athletic Association Softball program also hosted the NSA State Championships. The tournament grew from 68 teams to 169 teams in just 4 years.” After Gund’s speech, Frank Hill accepted the recognition plaque and briefly spoke: “The SAA is a class program that has a positive impact on the youth of our area. Jeff Jacobson, the Travel League Commissioner, has done an excellent job of ensuring we all work for the benefit of the youth we serve. My most precious memory of our teams is after the Sluggers finished competing for the 2010 National Championship. Several families from our other teams changed their travel plans to watch our team compete. When we left the field, all stood and gave the the girls a standing ovation. What a class group!”
Slugger coaches include: 10u Eric Wilcox, 12u red Bill Grezlak, Keith Birkholz, 12u white Mark Gadomski, 14u Randy Rothstein, 16u John Naujokas, 18u gold Jeff Jacobson, Frank Hill, 18u white Jim McGreevy, John Schuten. Commissioners include: Denise Anderson, President, SAA; Lou Anderson, Head Softball Commissioner; and Jeff Jacobson, Travel Commissioner.