Fastpitch softball is nothing new to the Altus community. At one time, it had an exceptionally large backing that seemed to slowly fade with time. The Velocity Softball Academy is trying to change that and they are succeeding.
Velocity Head Coach Joey Stengell wants to bring the excitement back to the fastpitch community. Since Dec. 1, 2015, Stengell has been hosting clinics and giving individual lessons in pitching at Velocity’s indoor facility. He has seen the way the community is responding and so far, it has all been extremely positive, which in turn has gotten him more excited about the future of his program.
His goal is to develop these athletes from T-ball all the way to the 18-and-under showcase events — complimenting the local schools’ softball programs and hopefully bringing many state championships to the area. That is his goal and it is one he believes he can achieve with his program.
Stengell’s experience is not limited to his Velocity program. Stengell retired from the Air Force and came to Altus two years ago because his wife is on active duty and was stationed here. He came from Virginia where he coached travel softball and was the commissioner of the Northern Virginia Softball Association. Now, he teaches at Western Oklahoma State College and is the assistant coach for the softball team there. He has more than eight years experience and is pouring that experience into his program.
“We’re in our first year and we’re excited to have qualified for state,” Stengell said. “The 14-and-under girls are going to Tulsa this weekend to play against other C-level teams at Savage Park for a chance to play in the World Series.”
Stengell’s current group of girls has improved immensely since entering the program, going from a team that had trouble putting it all together to one that competes each and every time it takes the field.
This is what he envisioned when he started the program. This is what has him so excited for the girls in this community. He is reviving a neglected sport and restoring it to its former glory. He has the skills and the equipment to do it and the locals are definitely starting to take notice. At one recent clinic, he had to turn some people away in order to make sure he could provide quality instruction and adequate attention to the ones who already had shown up.
It is not ideal and he wants these girls involved, but he also wants to keep the clinics to a manageable size. This is what he does and the development of his girls seems to indicate that he might have found the right formula. Each of his clinics has been full, but he tries to do something every month. That information can be found on Velocity’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/AltusVelocity.
“Little Smiles” has been his most popular clinic. It is for the four- to seven-year-old children and Stengell loves that clinic in particular because it allows him to teach them while they are just starting out. He can teach them to throw, catch and hold a bat so that they start their softball-playing careers out doing it the correct way.
It may have just started not too long ago, but Velocity softball really has started picking up steam this year. Girls are lining up to learn everything they can to be successful on the field. With a training facility that boasts three batting cages with JUGS pitching machines, a full infield for defensive drills and high-quality instruction from a college softball coach, the program is headed in the right direction.
“The competitive part of it is the smallest part of it. The educational piece is what we’re really focusing on,” Stengell said, adding that he would eventually like to bring tournaments to Altus. “We have the hotel space, we just have to get the energy back in the fastpitch community.”
For more information, contact Stengell at 937-269-3675.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.