Club News: Championship Winner Bill Conroy’s Beverly Bandits and Empowering Girls for Life Program Heads to California

The new Bandits – KAM 2009 team, coached by Travis Komara who made his 12U team one of the best in the country.

For more than a decade, the Beverly Bandits travel ball organization has been not just one of the best in the Midwest, but a prestigious Chicago-based organization that has won six PGF National Championships, including three led by the founder and program manager. Bill Conroy.

Until recently, Bandits teams were located in five states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, but now you can add California to that list because one of the best young Golden State teams have just started wearing the famous Bandits. Orange and black colors.

Interestingly, the addition of by Travis Komara The mighty 12U squad — which includes elite 2027 and 2028 players from across Southern California — wasn’t all about on-field factors.

As Coach Komara explains, much of the change had to do with how Conroy and his team give back to the sport through the program. Empowering Girls for Lifewhich is a non-profit Conroy launched five years ago.

Empowering Girls features an array of successful female role models, from legendary college coaches like Patty Gasso of Oklahoma and Carole Hutchins from Michigan to Astronaut Alyssa Carsonwhich is destined to be on the first flight to Mars, which speaks to young athletes about making their own marks in life.

Patty Gasso speaking at the first Empowering Girls for Softball convention (2018); she is expected to speak again this year, which marks the fifth year of the event which can be watched virtually for free.

“When I first heard about Empowering Girls For Life,” Coach Komara begins, “I immediately wished it was something I could have involved my girls in earlier. In softball , we encourage our athletes to understand their value, to be present and to take up space, but sometimes social influences send the opposite message Empowering Girls For Life exposes them to barrier-breaking women and how they found ultimate success while facing the same challenges young athletes face.

Over the past few years, Komara and Conroy have built a friendship that has grown based on their similar softball goals and ambitions with the overriding desire to help young athletes on and off the field.

“Travis and I stayed in touch,” Conroy explains, “and we talked about his team’s exit to the PGF Beverly Bandits Super 80 as well as the PGF Labor Day tournament, but when Travis mentioned wanting to support Empowering Girls for Life , I was surprised.”

Komara admits that he has long been an admirer of the Bandits’ organization and the way Conroy and his team do things.

“We went to Kentucky and played the Beverly Bandits – Mercurio 12U team,” the So Cal-based coach recalled. “They have one of the best teams we have ever seen, and we were certainly impressed with the quality of their softball, but even more so with the friendliness of the girls and their families.”

Bill Conroy (right) with one of his Bandit squads mugging for the camera!

Being in Southern California, Coach Komara, his staff, the players and their parents also loved the idea of ​​being part of a PGF-related team that would give them the opportunity to stay close to home. for national championships each year like their previous tie, the Corona Angels, are affiliated with Alliance Fastpitch, which rotates its nationals across the country. This year, for example, the 12U Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series will be in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Last month, while still wearing the Corona Angels – KAM colors, the team qualified for the PGF National Championships after going 5-0 at the PGF 12U Qualifier in Huntington Beach, Calif. . The Angels outscored their opponents 47-3 behind the pitcher of Isabelle Martinez, Koa puppy and Kinsey Komarawho had a combined 0.48 ERA and opposing hitters limited to a 0.141 batting average.

“Many of our girls played in the PGF National Championship tournament in 10U,” Coach Komara continues, “and the memories they made on and off the court during that week endured as the pinnacle of their young softball life. The legacy of the PGF National Championships and the journey that all of the teams that have won it have endured and inspired our girls to dream and work in hopes of adding their names to this list.

Pitcher Koa Puppe, one of the team’s many standout 2027s.

“The PGF National Championship is a one-of-a-kind experience, from the moment you walk into the registration area there is a sense of accomplishment in qualifying and a sense of pride that you are representing the name on the front of the jersey to the biggest stage.

During the winter, Komara approached Conroy about possibly joining the Bandits program; however, the club leader’s initial response was a surprising ‘no’.

“I thought it best for Travis and his team to find a quality organization in Southern California,” Conroy recalled. “Unfortunately Travis couldn’t find the perfect match there and stayed in touch with me about something close to my heart, Empowering Girls for Life.”

Ultimately, the benefits of integrating the young team into the organization made sense to both sides and the transition was initiated. Now look on the Bandits website and you will see the Bandits – Team Komara is one of three at 12U First-of-a-dozen in the fold, bolstering what was once one of the best travel softball teams in the country.

“I’m a very competitive person,” says Bill Conroy, “and winning the PGF Nationals and giving young girls the opportunity to play in college has always been my goal.”

“That being said, I realize there is a much bigger purpose and if I can help in some way by creating a platform that these amazing women can express their journey to all these young women who have need motivation and inspiration to be their best, so I feel like I’ve done something bigger than I could ever do on the pitch.

Bandits founder Bill Conroy says winning the PGF National Championships has always been his goal on the field, but with the Empowering Girls program: “I feel like I’ve done something bigger than I could ever do. in the field.”

Travis Komara thinks his coaches, players and their families are totally on board with what the Bandits stand for, both striving for championships, yes, but also being part of Empowering Girls for Life for build them as successes in life no matter what. they do.

“We are really excited to have the opportunity to play under the Beverly Bandits banner, to learn from Bill and all the coaches in the organization,” says the So Cal coach. “It’s really important for our coaching staff to keep our team together, to provide continuity but also to expose them to the culture of hosting six-time national championships and the commitment it takes to achieve it.”

Coach Komara stresses, however, that it’s not just about the game between the lines.

“It’s so easy to just focus on the physical metrics, the numbers that our girls are generating,” he says. “At the same time we talk about the importance of doing the things that matter, Empowering Girls For Life, exposes young athletes to steps beyond the dirt, beyond the daily grind and how our female leaders achieved their Goals. Bill provides access to one of the most important tools we can put in our daughters’ hands: a roadmap that others have followed to succeed in softball and in the world of work. »

For her part, Conroy is proud to have found a fellow coach, even so far down the West Coast, who shares her vision for improving young female athletes.

“My teams might think lifting the national PGF trophy is more important,” he concludes, “but their goals are more focused, which as a coach is what we all want. As a person, husband and father, however, I feel I have to do my part to help these young women be the best versions of themselves on and off the pitch.

Click here for more information on the Empowering Girls For Life 2022 program, which will be held on September 10, 2022. Registration for the virtual event is free.


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