For the third time, Trinidad State Women’s Softball Coach Steve Swazo will coach a team at the Triple Crown All-Star event in New York City. Swazo is one of 15 college coaches chosen from across the country to lead a regional team of teens at the July event.
Called the Ultimate College Exposure, the idea is to give teen girls a feel for what college softball is like. It’s sponsored by Triple Crown Sports and is in its sixth year in New York City. The regional teams will compete against each other on July 8, 9 and 10 at fields in Central Park. “And then on that last day of games we actually do a hitting clinic for the Harlem kids,” said Swazo. “They bring about a hundred or so kids down from Harlem, they bus them down, and the athletes along with us college coaches, we do hitting clinics and teach them about softball. How to throw a ball, how to catch a ball.” Swazo believes the clinic makes a lasting impression on the girls. “I think that’s probably one of the biggest thrills for a lot of the girls and then also for the coaches, to see a disadvantaged kid, who loves the game but can’t even afford a glove. That’s something that Triple Crown gives back to that particular area.”
The players are selected based on all-star games they took part in the previous summer. Venues include Denver, Las Vegas, California and Utah. “And we coaches coach at those all-star games as part of our recruiting process,” said Swazo. “And we select the best of the best in those games.” Swazo will coach with two NAIA coaches. All the girls will be from the west United States and will play against teams from other regions of the country. “It gives us an opportunity hopefully to make contact and make connections with some kids. I like to attend this, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been selected three times, because then we get Trinidad State out there.” Swazo will coach 18-year-olds, but a similar program exists for 14 and 16-year-old girls.
While the girls pay for this adventure, Triple Crown pays the bills for Swazo. But it’s far from a vacation. In addition to coaching, he’ll be a chaperone in the Big Apple. “During the day we have games, but then at night we have activities. We’re going to a Broadway show, we’re doing a double-decker tour, we doing Battery Park, we’re going on a harbor cruise. They like to bring back coaches who know New York City so we can get them on the subway, get them off the subway. We stay two blocks off of Times Square, so it’s walking distance for the girls to go up and down Times Square.” Swazo says it’s a trip of a lifetime for many of the girls chosen to attend.
Several all-star competitors have ended up playing for Swazo at Trinidad State, including Lauren Usry who came to Trinidad State in 2011 from Mississippi after meeting Swazo in New York City.