FC Nation: New Balance Partnership

One of our most important goals is to bring our players, coaches, and families the products with the highest demand at discounted prices. Well, we landed a big one last week when we signed a multi-year deal with New Balance, who is the current leader in softball footwear.

This means instant savings for our teams on a great variety of New Balance products when shopping at www.newbalanceteam.com/FIRECRACKERS. We are excited to see how you coordinate the New Balance cleat with our uniform options to customize your own Firecracker brand. The diversity that we have in place has allowed for hundreds of variations for you to choose from when creating your team image.

Adding New Balance to a sponsor line up that includes Wilson, DeMarini, Schutt, Easton, Mizuno, Bownet, and The Gluv means you can now affordably be at the top of your game when it comes to your gear.

FIRECRACKER SOFTBALL has partnered with NEW BALANCE ATHLETICS as our official footwear supplier. New Balance will be hosting an official FIRECRACKERS team store at www.newbalanceteam.com/FIRECRACKERS. The store will be closed every 2nd Friday starting August 30th to collect custom orders for processing. In-stock footwear and non-custom apparel are shipped within 5 business days. Custom apparel is delivered 4-6 weeks after store closure. Orders over $125 receive free shipping. You will receive an order confirmation via email from New Balance Team Sports <CustomerCare@newbalanceteam.com>.
You can share this link with family/friends to pass along the special team discount you will be receiving. *Please note, only items offered within the store are eligible for discount*

For any questions regarding login problems, selection issues, exchanges, order status, etc., please contact our Customer Care department:
 Email: CustomerCare@newbalanceteam.com
 Phone: 1-844-628-3267
 Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 9:00am – 6:00pm EST
 URL: http://www.newbalanceteam.com/NBTeam-FAQs.html





From Firecracker to WCWS Champion: Meet Brianna Tautalafua

UCLA senior and Firecracker alumnus, Brianna Tautalafua, ended her career in a Bruin uniform where every collegiate athlete hopes they finish… on top! Not only did UCLA capture the 2019 National Championship but Tautalafua shined when it counted most.


The Carson, CA native was a product of the Firecracker organization under Tony Rico and was a main stay in the Bruin lineup playing in 209 games over her 4 seasons in Westwood. Seeing 580 career at-bats, Tautalafua collected 160 hits including 36 homeruns, 130 RBIs, and 71 runs scored and made 4 trips to the Women’s College World Series along the way.

Of all the notable accomplishments Brianna has gained throughout her career, the most memorable may very well be her final days in a Bruin uniform. In the most talked about match-up in recent Women’s College World Series history she went a combined 4 for 7 in the two championship-series games including two homeruns. In what turned out to be the title game (game 2) Brianna led the offense going a perfect 3 for 3 with a homerun in the 5th and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the 7th to help walk the Bruins off to their 13th National Championship.

Festivities are coming to a close and Brianna was kind enough to give us a little insight into her journey as a Bruin from her very first day at Easton all the way to those magical last days in OKC.

1) Can you describe a little bit about your early softball journey before UCLA? Who were your major influencers, why you chose softball, when did you know you had a chance to play in college?

Bri: Growing up, my dad and my older sister had the biggest impact on my softball journey. I always looked up to my older sister, Darian, and once I saw her playing softball I automatically wanted to try playing as well. I started falling in love with the sport around 8 years old and at that age I would overhear parents hyping me up and saying how good of an athlete I am for my age. As I stuck through it, I saw my sister starting to get college offers and that’s what inspired me to achieve that type of accomplishment. Then as I got older, it was my turn for the recruiting process and knew I wanted to go to UCLA.

 2) Do you remember the first time you stepped on the field with UCLA? What are some of your earliest Bruin memories?

Bri: I remember my very first day as a college student was over the summer and I was beyond excited. Once I stepped on campus it was just so surreal that all the work I’ve done leading up to this moment is finally paying off. I was so stoked to play for UCLA that I had to step on the field before team training started, to hit in the cages and on the field. Once we met up as a team to start our first day of training at Easton Stadium, I was actually very terrified. The upperclassmen were so intimidating, I was scared to do anything that I might get in trouble for, and I was so shy. But as the weeks went by, everyone made sure we were comfortable and ready to play together. My favorite memory will always be the many different traditions that UCLA holds. It definitely molds our team together and allows us to have a special bond with one another. 

3) You won a National Championship in your senior year, what a way to go out! Tell me a little bit about what that meant to you especially having such an incredible championship series. 

Bri: Right as we beat Washington in the semifinals, I was just so emotional and began crying knowing that we are actually going to be competing in the National Championship Series. Not only was it special to me, but I was beyond proud to share this experience with my family as well. They have given me endless amounts of love and support throughout my career and to end my softball journey on the biggest stage with a trophy in hand was my dream. The moment my family stepped on the field after the game to celebrate with me is a feeling that I will never forget. It still hasn’t sunken in yet that my softball career is over nor the fact that I’m a National Champion.

4) Your collegiate career has come to an end, what’s next for you?

Bri: Now that softball is done, I will still be taking classes to finish up my degree in Gender Studies through fall quarter. I will be helping out our program in the fall as a volunteer assistant coach. Once I am done, I will be on the hunt for a job while still giving back to the softball world as much as I can to help younger girls pursue their dream.

Another huge CONGRATULATIONS to you Brianna! You’ve been a joy to watch and we’re excited to see where the next chapter takes you!



Women's College World Series Match Ups and More!

This feels like one of the most talked about Women's College World Series in recent history! Why? For starters, the 8 teams participating have won a combined 27 National Championships. (UCLA-11, Arizona-8, Oklahoma-4, Florida-2, Alabama-1, Washington-1) and with the exception of #13 Oklahoma State knocking off the reigning champs #4 Florida State, all top seeded teams have advanced.

Let's take a quick look at some of the first round match ups:

#1 Oklahoma (54-3)  vs. #8 Alabama (57-8)
Championship-type series in Game 1.

has been clean and consistent from day one with their only two regular season losses coming in the preseason to then #3 Florida State and #4 UCLA. They would sail through the season unscathed until dropping game one of the regional final to Wisconsin proving they're human, however, the tournament favorite doesn't seem to be lacking in any part of their game. Pitching is on point and deep and the hitters... well, they hit!

 began the season 33-0 before dropping their first L to Texas A&M in game 3 of the SEC series. They would go on to lose six in SEC play however it was good enough to claim the regular season championship. "Gritty not pretty" is a term used by head coach Patrick Murphy when talking about his team and they proved that having to claw their way past Texas in the Super Regional. Not always pretty, but you can never count out a team who isn't afraid of anybody.

#2 UCLA (51-6) vs. #7 Minnesota (46-12)
Winningest at the WCWS takes on first timers.

has been knocking on the door of a championship for the past few years but just haven't been able to pull it together when it really matters. This season could be different with the addition of Faraimo in the circle to help the 2x National Player of the Year, Rachel Garcia. Along with Azevedo the pitching staff has a 1.39 overall ERA and is supported by an offense that's scored one shy of 400 runs on the season. That combination is tough to beat.

is a team with an itch to make a statement and has already done so taking down two SEC powerhouses in post season defeating Georgia twice to take the Regional and then LSU at the Supers. Amber Fiser has an electric arm and if the bats show up to support her, things could get interesting.


#3 Washington (50-7) vs. #6 Arizona (47-12)
Awe, sweet revenge?

is out to avenge last year's championship series loss behind the arms of senior Taran Alvelo and one-year better Gabbi Plain. Washington has relied heavily on their pitchers in the past but it seems that the defense, anchored by the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year (and former Firecracker) Sis Bates, and the hitting is right up there to support. The series sweep in Arizona at the end of Pac-12 play kicked off an undefeated run to this point so the Huskies are riding the momentum wave.

wants revenge. Not only is it the Cats first trip back to the world series since their championship loss to UCLA in 2010 but they will face off against the Huskies who came into their house at Hillenbrand and embarrassed them with a series sweep just a few short weeks ago. That series ignited the Wildcats who turned around and took two from UCLA the following weekend and continued on flawless through the post season. The Wilcats have 103 HRs on the season and their pitchers are throwing better than ever.


#5 Florida (49-16) vs. #13 Oklahoma State (44-15)
Upset in the making?

is a mainstay in the rankings year after year but after an uncharacteristically inconsistent SEC regular season (12-12) many people started to doubt that the Gators had what it takes to make it back to OKC. After an undefeated SEC tournament and regional run, and then a hard fought Supers, Florida has proven that they thrive best in the post season. Case in point, senior Kelly Barnhill is throwing better than she has all season (possibly all career) and when you have an Amanda Lorenz on your team who's batting .419 with a .563 OB%, you can almost guarantee run support. Gators are never to be taken lightly.

Oklahoma State
is a team that many people believe has what it takes to upset the best. They aren't flashy but they produce and they have a good time doing it. With a no fear and nothing-to-lose attitude, the Cowgirls will be dangerous. Senior Samantha Show is a big reason for this season's successes pitching 183 innings and slugging 18 HRs. Another fun fact about OSU, Head Coach Kenny Gajewski was on staff with Florida HC Tim Walton when Florida won it's back to back titles.

Wayne Staats from NCAA.com makes the following prediction...

It's easy to say we're heading toward the inevitable Oklahoma-UCLA showdown for the title. But OKC usually has some surprises. With the way Washington has been playing, the Huskies seem like the best candidate to keep the Sooners-Bruins meeting from happening in the finals.

Arizona could slug its way to a run, but Washington will make it back to the final series. It will end there, though, as the Huskies become the first program since California in 2003-04 to lose in the final in consecutive seasons. For the third time in four years, Oklahoma wins the title.


One statement I DO agree with is that OKC usually always has some surprises. The action begins TODAY!

Firecracker Alum in the Super Regionals!

Buckle up, we’re down to 16! NCAA Super Regionals kicked off yesterday with #4 Florida State hosting #13 Oklahoma State in Tallahassee and #8 Alabama hosting #9 Texas in Tuscaloosa.  All 8 Super Regionals will be in action TODAY beginning at 3:00 PM EST so be sure to tune in and catch some of your favorite athletes as they pursue the ultimate college softball dream!

To see the entire Super Regional bracket including game times CLICK HERE.

Of course we can’t talk post season softball without highlighting our very own Firecracker alumni making it onto the big stage!

#1 University of Oklahoma
Eliyah Flores – SO – INF
Grace Lyons – FR – INF  *All Big 12 Freshman team
Brooke Vestal – FR - P


Brianna Tautalafua – SR – INF
Anna Vines – FR – INF






#3 University of Washington
Sis Bates – JR – INF *1st Team All Pac 12 and Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Kaija Gibson – JR – UTL









#6 University of Arizona
Hillary Edior – SR – C
Jenna Kean – FR – OF









#7 University of Minnesota
Josey White – FR – INF


#9 University of Texas
Mary Iakopo – SO – C  *2nd Team All Big 12
Tuesday DerMargosian – JR – OF



#10 LSU
Amanda Sanchez – SR – INF  *2nd Team All SEC
Ali Kilponen – FR – P
Karrington Houshmandzadeh – FR – OF


#12 University of Tennessee
Kaitlin Parsons – FR – OF  *SEC All Freshman Team

Be sure to catch every inning of action covered on the ESPN family of networks! #MAYhem

NCAA Post Season Selection Show Summary

Here we go again! NCAA post season is upon us and if you weren't able to tune into Sunday's Selection Show, let me get you up to speed.

This past weekend saw the end of the regular season and most conferences held their conference-tournaments to decide who would represent their respective leagues in the post season. These 32 conference champions would be awarded automatic berths into the NCAA post season while the remaining 32 are chosen based on factors including, but not limited to, record, rank, and RPI or Strength of Schedule.

Since the introduction of RPI into college softball, the hype around seedings has intensified as top record-holding and top ranked teams are no longer shoe-in to host if their regular season schedule doesn’t show a favorable amount of wins versus ranked opponents. The top 16 seeded teams will host their regional and the top 8 seeds will have the opportunity to stay at home for both the regional and super-regional rounds.

For a list of all automatic berths by conference as well as more information on the NCAA post season criteria and upcoming schedule click here.


#1 Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
#2 UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
#3 Washington (Seattle, WA)
#4 Florida State (Tallahassee, FL)
#5 Florida (Gainesville, FL)
#6 Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
#7 Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
#8 Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
#9 Texas (Austin, TX)
#10 LSU (Baton Rouge, LA)
#11 Ole Miss (Oxford, MS)
#12 Tennessee (Knoxville, TN)
#13 Oklahoma State (Stillwater, OK)
#14 Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
#15 Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
#16 Northwestern (Evanston, IL)

For the complete NCAA Tournament Bracket click here or visit the NCAA website at www.ncaa.com/softball

Also, stay tuned for updates on some of your favorite Firecracker alumni as they make a push toward that coveted National Championship!

The Rise of Firecrackers DFW Sykes

Firecrackers DFW Sykes stole the show at the DFW Shootout “MVP Event” going undefeated in a 6-game stretch to win the 14U Gold bracket championship. Haawa Townsend, Abby Garner, and Jess Antonacci combined for five homeruns, three of which came in the semi-final game versus Impact Gold Zaboronek, leading the team to the finals where they would ultimately defeat Texas Glory White by a score of 3-1. For head coach Sean Sykes, the road to this high-profile tournament win was not an easy one but one that is beginning to payoff in a big way. According to Sykes, “We took our lumps in the fall,” but Firecrackers DFW are well on their way to putting the program back on the map.

The Sykes' family Firecracker softball journey began back in 2016 in Lake Elsinore, California where Kat Sykes played for Firecrackers Jensen. After a successful 2016-2017 season and after 26 years in Southern California, Sean Sykes got the call that work would be relocating him and his family to Beaverton, Oregon.  This past summer, after one year in Beaverton and one season with the Oregon Blaze, the call came once again to relocate, this time to the Dallas area. With this move there was a strong desire to find that winning softball culture for Kat to be a part of now that she was into her 14U season. With experience coaching at both the travel ball and high school levels, Sean had hopes of not only creating the best possible situation for Kat, but also had a desire to return to the dugout himself.

It’s no secret that Texas holds some of the most competitive travel ball programs in the nation, but Sean and Kat preferred to continue on with the Firecracker foundation created during their time in California.  So, when the text from Firecrackers DFW 18U coach, Tony Rosales, came, it felt like home. Not long after the call, the 2018 season ended and the second year 14U coaching position opened up. Sykes was offered the position and accepted, and on the day of the team tryout, 10 athletes showed up including one returner. Sykes took all 10 and began preparing for what was assumed to be a re-building year. The first few months were “educational at best” says Sykes, as the team went on to win only 1 of its first 24 games. A game-changing contact came in early October when Sean received a call from Mission Viejo, California native Dave Gonzalez, whose daughter, Kaitlyn had also previously been in the Firecrackers organization. Understanding the culture of the organization, and also being a high school coach, Sean knew Dave could make a huge impact as part of his staff that already included Scott Shenkenberger and Shane Daniel. Together they began to build.

Despite battling some injuries and the departure of a few athletes, the team and staff remained determined to make waves on the field and by the end of October, opponents who had laughed at the struggling team were falling victim. “We started to turn the corner by just following the principles; the practice regimen, four poles, be the hunter, gunslinger, high intensity, high energy practices while driving a culture to Play with Honor."

With momentum from the DFW Shootout championship, Firecrackers DFW Sykes looks forward to several high-quality spring and summer tournaments including one of the most prestigious So Cal Triple Crown showcases, Zoom into June, where they anticipate getting to meet many teams in their extended Firecracker family. It’ll be exciting to follow as DFW Sykes inaugual 2019 season continues to unfold. “I coach with the mindset to practice hard, teach in practice, and then let them 'play the game'. I was in awe of how this scrappy team, the one that everyone laughed at in the fall, now has teams afraid to play them, and we are only beginning.” -Sean Sykes

Get to know the Firecrackers DFW Sykes team and follow their journey by visiting their website www.firecrackersdfwsykes.com or visit their Facebook page Firecrackers DFW Rosales/Sykes.


The Loss of a Legend

We lost our version of The American Sniper today. We lost Batbuster coach and travel ball legend Mark Campbell at the young age of 57. Anyone who knew him or competed against him knew that he was in a class of his own.

Mark accomplished what every coach dreams of, but only a handful ever do, and most of you don’t know it because coaches like Mark don’t talk about themselves. They just keep accomplishing mission after mission until the last mission is finally over. Since the early 2000s, his teams dominated at the highest level of the game. He produced great player after great player, championship after championship, and he did it against the best.

The Firecrackers were one of the few organizations lucky enough to be able to acquire Mark Campbell-trained players. What that meant was that we were not only getting a physically gifted player, but we were also getting a very disciplined, resilient player who was trained to win championships; and that they did. Again, only a handful of players knows what that really means.

Then came the partnership between Mark and the Batbusters. It seemed to be a perfect match, and together with Mike Stith as president, they kept the legacy of the Batbuster name at the top of the game. His loss cannot be replaced, and it will be felt for a very long time not only within the Batbuster organization, but also within the entire softball world.

We truly lost a great one. This is a dark day for our sport.

We will add Mark Campbell to the list of why we Play with Honor, and why we will honor the responsibility of not forgetting the great people of our past who paved the way for so many to enjoy the successes of today. Guys like Mark protect us and make us feel safe. They are not supposed to die young.

Godspeed, Mark

FC National Highlight- Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks

Next up on our tour of Firecrackers nation-wide, we head down to sunny southern California’s San Diego contingent, Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks. Having recently celebrated their 1-year Firecracker anniversary, Hicks and company have certainly made a name for themselves not only nabbing athletes from their home base of San Diego, but all the way from El Centro to Riverside and Arizona. Although hailing from different regions and backgrounds, the team considers themselves a tight knit family with the common goal of each playing college ball somewhere, someday.

The growth of Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks began about 5 years ago when a couple of Imperial Valley (deep Southeast San Diego) players reached out looking for a higher level of competition. As the group got stronger and word began to spread, what began as a vision to “meet a need” boomed into a regional softball powerhouse.

So, what was it that drew Bill Hicks into the Firecracker organization just over a year ago? “The ‘family’ atmosphere and support system,” he says. “There is a defined structure all the way to the top.” Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks is overseen by longtime Firecracker coach and FC VP Sean Brashear, who also uses his experience and expertise to help guide several other Firecrackers Brashear squads. “Being under the Brashear umbrella is a privilege. It is a very close-knit family and is based on knowledge, accountability and learning to play (and coach) the game the right way in order to create opportunities for the players. Sean hosts workouts regularly with all of his teams and gets to know the girls very well. The thing about Brashear’s umbrella that makes it so special is that there is a tremendous support system in place."

This support system includes big softball influencers and fellow peer coaches such as Tony Rico, Sean Brashear, Roman Gallegos, Mark Thornburg, Mike Smith, Jeff Allan, and Raul Duarte as well as each member of the Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks coaching staffs.

Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks 16U Coaching staff
Bill Hicks – Head Coach/Manager
Alfredo DeLaTrinidad – Coach
Gary Taylor- Coach
Ricky Guzman - IF/OF Coach
Sean Brashear - Recruiting

Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks 14U Coaching staff
Bill Hicks – Manager
Donny Wallace – Head Coach
Chad Dean – Coach
Matt Villaescusa – Coach

During their inaugural 2018 season, Firecracker Brashear-Hicks experienced great success sending both teams on their first trips to the PGF National Championships. Finishing top 20 in the 14U Premier division and 3rd in the 12U Platinum division, Bill Hicks says his greatest lesson learned is “Be yourself and build your own product that is unique. Don’t try to copy anyone else.”

Looking ahead to this 2019 summer, coach Hicks and his teams most look forward to getting back out to Colorado and spending time as a TEAM! Good luck coach Hicks, we look forward to following the Firecrackers Brashear/Hicks journey!

FC National Highlight- Firecrackers Gale

We're kicking off this Firecracker National Highlight tour with a dynamic and exciting team out of Colorado, Firecrackers Gale. Powered by 18U Head Coach, Randy Gale, Firecrackers Gale has fought through the struggles of being a mid-America team in today's softball rush, to becoming a contender in some of the country's biggest tournaments.

Going into year four in the organization, Firecrackers Gale is comprised of both an 18U team lead by head coach, Randy Gale and assisted by Nicole Gale and Michelle and Tony Gilio, and a 16U team behind head coach Scott Bricker and assisted by Shauna Parrish.

Read below as Coach Gale walks through some of the difficulties in gaining traction in this face-paced softball world as well as his passion for developing his athletes both on and off the field.


"Our team is driven by these values - first and foremost, a positive, team-first attitude, overall character - both on and off the field and a strong work ethic. The young ladies I have on my team, for the most part, have been with me since 10 or 12U. Everyone has a role and everyone contributes. They all know that for us to be successful, it takes every one of them. We are a family - from the players, coaches, parents and siblings. We spend almost as much time off the field together as we do on. In addition to our core, we have picked up some great girls this season that fit this culture. All of these young ladies understand what playing as a team is about.

Being a Colorado team, it has been difficult to get on the right stage for exposure and national tournaments. When we started we didn’t have the power house teams (in Colorado) like California and Texas. We’ve heard whispers since they were young like, "Oh it's just another Colorado team” and “Colorado has good players not great players." People don’t expect us to be competitive. As a coach, I have had to learn how to manage perceptions and drive expectations for these girls to compete with the best in the country.

There are many challenges thrown our way. To start with, the weather. We don't get the opportunity to be outside year round. In the winter months, we train at our indoor facility "The Off Season" from October through February. It’s difficult to make sure you are getting enough reps and doing the little things that you need to pay special attention too. Fielding ground balls for 4 months indoors becomes tough mentally after a while. And you can't train all aspects of the game like outfield because of space limitations. Mentally, they just want to get outside.

We also face the problem of having less athletes to choose from. We tend to have to pick kids up from all over the state rather than just from our local area. It makes it that much more important to find the elite athlete that fits into our culture, because they have to be that much more dedicated.

Having high school ball in the fall also creates a challenge for a couple reasons - First, the girls come out of winter and go straight into tournaments. There is no “warm-up” or dirt time that other states may have playing high school ball in the spring. The majority of our comp season runs March through the end of July, so when high school starts they are tired from just coming off their travel ball season, and roll right into high school season, where they end up seeing training 5 days a week. This can be very taxing on them, mentally and physically. For incoming freshmen learning how to manage arm care is huge. They have little experience throwing 5 days a week, and with the wrong direction can create serious arm issues. So to help with that, we shut the girls down from throwing for November and December and work a lot of strength and agility.

We have done a few things to try to break the stigma of most teams from Colorado, starting with how we put the team together. During tryout season, we go back to our values and look for athletes that we know would represent our Firecracker Organization, their coaches, and most importantly themselves as young women with honor and dignity. We are also looking for the girl that has chemistry with the rest of the team. While we of course look for athleticism, it’s not always our deciding factor.

The Firecrackers culture is a huge reason why we continue to attract the right kinds of players to our team. This culture is now flowing to all our FC teams in Colorado, and that starts from the top. We have brought Coach Tony Rico out to Colorado a few times, to help explain the culture and expectations it takes to be part of the Firecrackers. When you have the buy-in from one of the most influential people in softball, let alone your organization, telling you and your team you are doing things the right way, it becomes such a desire to maintain and build on that.

Additionally, we have an extremely challenging travel schedule. Come June and July we are pretty much gone out of state competing in the top showcases or tournaments around the country. To prepare for this, we play at the highest level we can in our state against the top teams in 18s. Our team has always played up and understood that we may take our licks, but we will be better prepared to play those teams from California, Arizona, Texas, and the South. We are also constantly trying to teach them the mental side of the game as well. Everything from going to bat with an approach to thinking 2 plays ahead on defense or having the bench players keep score or calling pitches to increase their game IQ.

Alongside of these things, I also believe that as a coach it is my job to foster good relationships and trust with college coaches. And by doing that I try to make sure that the colleges are aware that we do have great talent in this state.

We will continue to be the underdog when we travel out of state, and that's ok. These young ladies are happy to prove themselves every time they take the field. As their coach, I couldn't be happier with the success they have achieved, their future looks extremely bright."

                                                                        -Randy Gale

For more information on Firecrackers Gale and the Colorado Firecrackers organization please visit www.firecrackers-gale.com

Happy New Year to the Firecracker Nation!

As we enter the year of 2019, the most important thing I want to say to all of you is "thank you." Not just thank you for being Firecrackers, but thank you for remembering what "Firecrackers" stand for. Thank you for remembering that happiness is what's most beautiful, and it certainly shows in all your social media pictures. Thank you for prioritizing respect for the game, your team, your opponents and most of all yourselves, because that's the most important piece of the Firecracker legacy.

Our amazing growth has come directly from your efforts which continues to create a stronger demand for our brand. Our regional managers and their staffs in Alabama,  North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, California and Utah have done an amazing job of building sustainable cultures that are starting to thrive. This national strength has pushed our organization over $100 million in scholarship dollars received since our club was founded by Gary Wardein in 1990. This couldn't have been attained without all of you continuing to believe in our core principles.

Are you proud to be a Firecracker? If Sis Bates and Taylor Van Zee leading the Washington Huskies to the finals of the Women's College World Series didn't inspire you, then you may be in the wrong organization. They absolutely epitomized the type of carefree happy players that we want all our players to be. The year these two had together was the highlight of our year at Firecracker Softball. As the late coach Norm Perez would say, "It don't get no better than this!"

So how are we going to make 2019 even better? We are ecstatic to bring you FC OnDemand, so that those that want the same level of success for themselves can start to invest in all the little things that when added up make the biggest difference on and off the field. I am personally so thankful to our production team for the quality of these videos. I truly believe that every Firecracker player, coach, and parent across the country will not only be able to learn "the system," but you will also be entertained along the way.

Let's all stay arm-in-arm to make 2019 the best ever!

Good health and happiness to you all!

-Tony Rico