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 11 sports and over 6,000 registrants, while the Sluggers have grown from 2 teams to currently 11 competitive teams, ranging from 8u to 18u. Originally the Sluggers were known as the Schaumburg Sluggers as the teams were mostly comprised of local Schaumburg players. As the Sluggers started to travel nationally and gain more national attention through College Showcases and large elite National tournaments we changed our name to the Illinois Sluggers to better help college coaches know where we are from. This transition from a local or regional program to a nationally known program has better helped the Sluggers place our players at the colleges of their choice. For three decades the Sluggers have been the premier developmental fastpitch program in the Chicagoland area.
Sher (top far left) came back to help coach the Sluggers in 1996
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 Sluggers 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. On that great day in May, the site was named Olympic Park. Great names like Lisa Fernandez, Michelle Smith, Dot Richardson, Leah O'brien, Lori Harrigan, Laura Berg and many more played that day against the Sluggers team at newly named Olympic Park.
Slugger Carla Hill will retire a member of the USA Olympic Team in the second game of a double header
Gold Medalist Michelle Smith pitched against the Slugger dominated all-stars
Since that event 20 years ago, the Slugger program has continued to improve instruction, facilities, and direction. In 2003 and again in 2010, the Sluggers were Runner-up National Champions. During the past decade, Slugger teams have reached the top 10 at nationals numerous times at various age levels. We also have over a dozen state championships for various sanctioning bodies.
The Sluggers have the best training facilities in the Chicagoland area. We have our own training center with 7 full size cages, strength training equipment, state of the art video analysis and conference rooms used for mental game training and team meetings. We also have exclusive access to the Schaumburg Sportcenter which has four indoor softball fields with over 100 foot ceilings that we both train and play games during the winter months. The Sluggers also practice and hold tournaments on 17 softball diamonds in Schaumburg.
We are centrally located in Schaumburg, but players come from over an hour radius of Schaumburg to play for the best.
On December 4 2010, the 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. At that time, the program was the only travel club that had been inducted into the hall from fast pitch softball. In addition, Coach Frank Hill was the first travel softball coach to have been inducted. He was inducted in 2007.
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 other 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 248 teams in just 4 years.” After Gund’s speech, Frank Hill accepted the recognition plaque and briefly spoke: “Sluggers 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 girls a standing ovation. What a class group!”
The 2010 edition of the Sluggers won 5 games in one day at the NSA World Series. They went on to become the NSA Runner-up National Champions at the 16u level. 10 individuals pictured here went on to play college softball.
The "Slugger Way" has improved greatly since those first few years. Continuing Education Clinics for our coaches and players have greatly improved the quality of instruction for the program. Our hitting facility is open to all Sluggers 24/7 throughout the year. All teams not only work on skills during the winter, but they also host round robins and spend considerable time improving each player’s mental game. Our approach is to develop the person as well as the player. The program is moving from volunteer coaches to paid professional coaches. Good luck to all Slugger teams and our competition!!