It is not an easy thing to ask a teenager to step out of their comfort zone, travel hundreds of miles from home, meet new people and all the while, display a solid first impression of your softball skills to both your peers and Softball Factory coaches. But after arriving in mid-June at Softball Factory’s World Series event at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, right-handed pitcher and outfielder Lauren Lofland found her confidence and credits the Softball Factory coaching staff with helping her to do so.
“I went into the camp very nervous and had little confidence in my abilities,” the Paoli, Penn. native confesses. “When I got on the mound the second day, I gained confidence and learned that I can be just as good as the other players.”
Lofland calls the instruction given from the staff “high-level” and enjoyed the excitement and intensity that they brought to the table.
“The coaches and staff pushed me to work harder and be the best athlete I could be,” Lofland explains. “Even though the camp was for softball, they worked on making sure we all acted and performed like athletes.”
Lofland, who first attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Swarthmore, Penn. in December of 2017, appreciates the Softball Factory staff’s ability to not just coach young athletes about the physical skills you need for softball, but also the mentality required to be successful in the sport.
“The staff also touched on the mental side of the game, which is very important,” Lofland notes. “One of the best parts was that you were surrounded by girls just like you, that wanted to go to the next level and love the sport just as much as you do. I met so many amazing girls and to this day we still keep in touch. Two of the biggest takeaways from the event were the drills and new skills I gained, but the biggest takeaway was the confidence I gained in my abilities as a pitcher.”
Her boost in self-confidence has not gone unnoticed.
“My daughter has become a more confident player,” the 2020 high school grad’s mother, Linda Lofland shares. “Lauren gained assertiveness and owned the diamond during games. Her ability in her game was increased by the many repetitive drills and skill enhancements of positional play. She walked away a much stronger player from this event and when she was done she wanted to do it all over again.”
Coach Andrea Williamson, who played collegiately at Tennessee and later Marshall, as well as professionally with the Chicago Bandits and USSSA Pride, is one of the Softball Factory coaches who Lofland often attributes her newfound poise on the mound to.
“Coach Andi taught me that what is most important for pitchers is to have confidence in themselves and their pitches,” the Conestoga High School junior recalls. “Coach Andi helped show me the potential I had to be a strong pitcher. She made me feel confident in my pitches and helped prove to myself that I can go to the next level. She also taught me drills, such as long toss, that I have used ever since.”
Linda Lofland shares her daughter’s appreciation for Coach Andi.
“My daughter was impacted by the positive reinforcement of words and praise that came from the main pitching coach, Andi Williamson,” she shares. “These words meant a lot, as Andi is a former collegiate player as well as a former professional player. Her words of encouragement and praise built Lauren’s confidence which she exuded on the mound every game she played during the Softball Factory World Series. She walked away with new warmup tools and has been utilizing the distant warmup drill each week since.”
Lauren is an ideal athlete,” Williamson said. “She always gave 100 percent & was very receptive to all information given to her. You could tell she wanted to get better and take advantage of all the softball knowledge of our staff. She was constantly asking questions about the mental & physical aspects of the game. She’s a competitor and has great potential and I am excited to see what the future has in store for her.”
The Lofland family’s relationship with Softball Factory continues to grow as Lauren’s sister, Janie Lofland, who is 12 and will be working with the Factory as she will attend December’s Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Swarthmore, PA. Lauren Lofland encourages her sister to make the most of her Softball Factory experiences.
“I would tell my sister who will now be doing the same events with Softball Factory, to just be confident in your skills and to listen to what every coach and staff has to share because it really will help improve and make you a better player,” Lauren explains. “My sister will be impacted by the care and follow-through Softball Factory provides because they make learning the game fun and do demonstrations that will leave an impact on you.”
She recommends Softball Factory not just to her sister, but to anyone.
“For someone that has never done a Softball Factory event, but wants to get started, I would say they should definitely go for it!” the young athlete exclaims. “These events will change your perspective and mentality of the game. Not just your skills will improve, but your mental game will too.”