Experience the Power of Sport at Be The Best

Experience the Power of Sport at Be The Best

Wilmington, NC – We are excited to announce the upcoming Be The Best Baseball and Softball Convention, taking place on January 13-15, 2023 at the Wilmington Convention Center. This is a unique opportunity for players, coaches, and industry experts from across the country to come together and learn from top coaches in the industry.

The Be The Best Convention is hosting its 50th-anniversary staple event, and we are honored to have several high-profile coaches presenting on a variety of professional development topics, including leadership, culture building, and branding. Speakers include UNCW‘s legendary baseball coach Mark Scalf (’92-’19), Carol Hutchins (Michigan Hall of Fame Head Coach 85-’22), and Tyler Gillum (Head Coach of the Savannah Bananas).

“I am a long-time fan of Be The Best and am excited to see old friends in a new home,” says Carol Hutchins. “It’s always a special weekend with a perfect balance of fun and learning. Wilmington is a great place for this convention!”

The Savannah Bananas baseball team, led by Head Coach Tyler Gillum, is also making waves in the industry with their innovative branding strategy. They have been praised for their unique approach to building a successful team and fan base, and attendees of Be The Best will have the opportunity to learn from their success.

Local businesses focused on growth will want to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from these notable speakers. And, as an added bonus, local businesses are also invited to take part in a business-centered Power Breakfast on Saturday, January 14th, 2023.

In addition to being an excellent opportunity for attendees to learn and grow, Be The Best will also be a boost for the Wilmington economy. Sports events like this have the ability to bring in significant tourism and support local businesses.

Sponsorship opportunities, and Power Breakfast tickets are available for local businesses and organizations looking to support Be The Best and be a part of this exciting event.

Students with a valid ID can get a reduced rate of just $10 admission using code: ‘student’. For those looking to volunteer or work the event, email: info@bethebest.com. For more information, please visit our website at www.bethebest.com or call (910) 839-7131.

Be The Best Releases Schedule for Baseball and Softball Convention Friday, January 13 – Sunday, January 15, 2023

Be The Best Releases Schedule for Baseball and Softball Convention Friday, January 13 – Sunday, January 15, 2023

Wilmington, NC – With Be The Best and Title IX both celebrating 50th-year anniversaries, the annual convention has switched things up a bit and is heading to Wilmington, NC. Though the location has changed, Be The Best remains committed to bringing the best of the best to the speaker stage for a weekend of unforgettable conversations, connections, and learning experiences.

Over the course of the weekend, baseball and softball are equally represented with many speakers sharing insights and skills that are relevant to both sports.

The weekend kicks off Friday morning at 9 am with two veteran coaches discussing different ways of doing what’s always been done. Darren Fenster of the Boston Red Sox talks about how the cookie-cutter approach just may not be the way to go. And Doug Gillis, the Virginia Tech coach known for developing some of the country’s best softball pitchers, tackles the topic of how angles and power lines have been taught incorrectly for decades.

Throughout the morning, speakers cover everything from team offense and outfield ABCs to building champions and what makes a great competitor.

Friday afternoon is filled with the highly acclaimed Rap Sessions which are rapid-fire, shorter sessions, filled with invaluable information. Among many others, Patrick Anderson of the St. Louis Cardinals organization wreaks havoc on the base paths, and softball’s winningest coach, Carol Hutchins, fields Q&As. The importance of self-awareness is brought to light by sports research scientist, Cheryl McCormick, and Josh Bloomer, USC’s new hitting coach talks about what teams look for when it comes to recruiting.

Friday comes to an end with the ever-popular Coaches VIP Party, a time for everyone to kick back with a few drinks, make new friends, and have some fun.

Among scores of others, Saturday’s sessions bring one of softball’s most beloved coaches, John Tschida, to the stage covering throwing fundamentals; Savannah BananasTyler Gillum introduces infield throwing programs and progressions; UNCW softball’s recently retired coach, Kristy Norton, talks about building the ultimate championship team and former Olympian mindset coach, Joey Lye talks about coaching the female athlete.

Sunday wraps up with one of the sport’s most captivating baseball coaches, Jeremy Sheetinger talking about team culture and Andrew Bartman covering life off the field.

After a weekend spent with Be The Best in Wilmington, you’re pretty much guaranteed to emerge as a better player, parent, or coach. After all, there’s a reason this convention has been around for 50 years.

Click here for the full schedule and visit www.bethebest.com for more information and tickets.

USA SOFTBALL Partners with Be The Best

USA SOFTBALL Partners with Be The Best

Wilmington, NCBe The Best is excited to announce a promising partnership with USA Softball (USAS) as Tim Doby takes over as Commissioner in North Carolina.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Be The Best,” says Tim Doby. “Be The Best offers a great networking opportunity with an impressive speaker line-up that translates to an invaluable learning experience for coaches and players at all levels. This year with so many Little Leagues attending, there will be quite a draw for youth as well as coaches of younger players.

USA Softball is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization that serves as the governing body for the United States national softball team and oversees more than 120,00 amateur teams nationwide. Now representing a membership of more than 2,000,000, USAS is responsible for adopting softball’s first universally accepted rules of play and for implementing consistent and fair competition across the country. USAS sanctions competitions in every state through a network of state/metro associations.

As well as being the primary funding source and pipeline to the USA Softball National teams, USAS provides opportunities for people of all ages to play softball at a variety of levels. USA Softball offers recreational, league, tournament, and national championship play for fast pitch, slow pitch, and modified pitch and conducts over 100 national championships a year.

“The convention’s move to Wilmington complements our efforts at USA Softball to make the southeast region a strong player for years to come,” says Doby. “I can’t wait!”

As the nation’s longest-running baseball and softball coaches convention, Be The Best is committed to the education and development of youth in sports. Hundreds of coaches, players, and sports enthusiasts from across the country attend this annual event. Known for its interactive and casual format, Be The Best levels the playing field, giving attendees an opportunity to connect with the speakers that include college coaches, professional coaches, former Olympiads, and sports specialists. Topics range from skills and drills to conquering the mind game and building your best brand.

“I can’t think of a more relevant partner than USA Softball,” says Lindsay Mayer, CEO of Be The Best. “Our visions are perfectly aligned in that softball’s accessibility to all is of paramount importance. And we are both committed to assuring that players, coaches, and fans all experience the best of the sport they love.”

For 50 years, Be The Best Baseball and Softball Coaches Convention has preserved the founding concept of providing an affordable, accessible convention created for coaches, by coaches. Now run by Alphas Alliance, a woman and minority owned and operated business, Be The Best will be held for the first time in Wilmington, NC from January 13-15, 2023.

For more information, please email info@bethebest.com or call (910) 839-7131.



Wilmington, NCBe The Best is excited to announce the addition of Carol “Hutch” Hutchins, to the speaker line-up at their annual baseball and softball coaches convention, held in Wilmington, NC from January 13-15, 2023.

Hutchins served 38 seasons at the helm of the University of Michigan softball team, solidifying the school’s spot as one of the top programs in the country. She retired this past August as the winningest coach in NCAA softball history with a career record of 1,707-55-5 (.755). She also holds the distinction of being the winningest coach – male or female – in Michigan’s history. She was the first collegiate coach to reach 1,500 wins in 2017 and two years later, the first to 1,600.

“We are so honored that Hutch chose to share her expertise and insights with us at Be The Best,” says Diego Ibarra, co-founder of Be The Best and Alphas Alliance. “I guarantee that every person who hears her speak will pick up something that will help them in life as well as in the game. Hutch is the best of the best.”

As head softball coach at the University of Michigan, Hutch led the team to the NCAA Women’s College World Series 12 times. In 2005, Michigan became the first program east of the Mississippi River to claim the NCAA Championship when they defeated UCLA. As a coach, Hutch boasts 22 Big Ten regular season titles, 10 Big Ten Tournament championships and qualified for the NCAA Tournament 29 times.

With Hutch at the helm, Michigan received 69 All-American citations (23 being first-team), while 14 earned Academic All-American honors. Also granted under her tutelage were 20 Big Ten Player of the Year awards, 16 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year awards, 13 Big Ten Freshman of the Year awards, 202 Academic All-Big Ten awards, 212 All-Big Ten citations, and 154 All-Midwest or All-Great Lakes Region certificates.

However, Hutchins confesses that her “greatest joy and the ultimate reward has not been measured by wins and championships. Success is measured by the many, many people who fill your life.”

Former players have gone on to excel at the international and professional levels, medaling in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, WBSC World Championship, World Cup of Softball, Japan Cup, U.S. Pan American Games, Junior Pan American Games, Junior World Championship, Canada Cup, International Cup, and World University Games.

Inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006, Hutchins earned 18 Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year honors, eight NFCA Regional Coach of the Year awards, and two NFCA National Coach of the Year honors. In 2016, she was named the inaugural recipient of espnW’s Pat Summitt Coaching Award, presented to the coach who “exemplifies the character and courage” of the late University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach.

A strong advocate for gender equality in sports, Hutch is a recipient of the Nell Jackson Award, considered the highest honor the Michigan State Varsity “S” Club can give a female alumna for professional accomplishments and community service. She was inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, and the Greater Lansing Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.

“There’s so much more to softball than teaching skills,” Hutchins says. “Developing strong women who can go out into the world and make a difference is even more important than winning championships.”

On October 10, it was announced that Hutchins would receive a WeCOACH Lifetime Achievement Award. This prestigious award is presented to women in sports who succeed at the highest levels in their respective careers, while also displaying an unwavering commitment, pioneering spirit, and trailblazing leadership to empower and pave the way for girls and women in all sports and levels to break through for many generations to come.

Hutch is no stranger to Be The Best. She has shared her inspirations at the convention many times over the years and recognizes the value of the interactive format that allows connections to be created and relationships solidified.

Be The Best, now owned and operated by Alphas Alliance,  traditionally attracts about 1,500 attendees who come together each year to interact with former professional and Olympic athletes, college coaches, and other baseball and softball professionals who share their experience and expertise. Speaker topics include everything from how to build a championship program and making sense of the mental game to pitching mechanics and defense skills.

For sponsorship opportunities, tickets, and general information on the convention and speakers, please email info@bethebest.com

Jack Hawkins: Our Friend and Founder

Jack Hawkins: Our Friend and Founder

Back before some of us were even born, Jack Hawkins was laying the foundation for the rest of our baseball lives.

Just a regular guy who loved the game, Jack came up with an idea. Why not build a base for coaches to come together and share their knowledge, skills, and friendship? Well, that idea became a reality and out of his vision, Be the Best You Are Coaches Clinic was born in 1972.

From the beginning, Jack was committed to making this annual event a clinic run by coaches FOR coaches. And, that’s exactly what he did for 43 years. He was a charismatic creator who, every year, put together unparalleled lineups of professional, college, and local coaches for a few days of instruction, interaction, and a whole lot of fun.

Be the Best has endured the test of time despite the ever-changing culture of youth sports.

Jack was a three-sport athlete at Princeton High School who went on to play quarterback for the West Chester University (PA) Golden Rams. After graduating, he took a job as a Physical Education teacher and remained a predominant figure in the Manasquan community for over 30 years. In 1968, Jack became head football coach at Manasquan High School where, in ten seasons at the helm, boasted six division titles, two undefeated seasons, won the NJSIAA CJ Group Two State Championship, and was a three-time Coach of the Year.

Jack also served as head baseball coach at Manasquan from 1968-1976. In those eight seasons, the team had a 100-35 record, won four division championships, one state championship, and two Monmouth County Tournament titles.

Jack was inducted into the Princeton High School Hall of Fame in 2008, the Manasquan High School Hall of Fame in 2009, the New Jersey Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1991, and the New Jersey Scholastic Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2012.

Jack Hawkins was a formidable presence both on the field and off. He was a coach, a character, a visionary, and a friend.

Because of him, Be the Best continues to thrive, making it the longest-running baseball and softball clinic in the country. The people you meet, the lessons you learn, and the skills you share each year in Cherry Hill are the direct result of one man who had the courage, the commitment, and the chutzpah to make it all happen.

John “Jack” Albert Hawkins
August 21, 1941 – October 26, 2019

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson

A Coach’s Journey: An interview with Karen Bidwell

A Coach’s Journey: An interview with Karen Bidwell

Karen Bidwell
Head Softball Coach,
Susquehanna Valley High School
Conklin, NY
16U and 18U Club Coach
25 years of coaching

What’s the best thing about being a coach?
The best thing about coaching for me is being able to coach with my husband! Since 1999, I have been so lucky to have had an amazing coach by my side, throughout it all! My husband, Ken, and I are co-head coaches on the club teams, and although I am technically the head coach of our high school team, Ken is way more than an assistant. He is an invaluable asset and as much a coach as I am. My successes are certainly his as well.

Who is your biggest motivator or influence?
My husband, Ken, has actually been my biggest motivator. He is a fantastic coach who relates to his players. He is knowledgeable, fair, caring, dedicated, and puts his heart and soul into coaching. He is everything I believe a coach should be.

Ralph and Karen Weekly hold a special place in my softball heart. As another husband and wife coaching duo, they are my idols and role models. Also, Carol Hutchins and Scott Whitlock are always so inspiring. We love to hear them speak and when we do, we learn so much and come away excited and motivated to start our season.

How did you get your start in coaching?
I knew I wanted to coach about five minutes after I got roped into my first coaching position back in 1989. I was “volunteered” to coach my son’s youth soccer team. And while I loved the coaching aspect, the sport was definitely not my passion. But, I kept going and went on to coach his t-ball and basketball teams.

I got my start in softball in 1993 when I coached my daughter’s 12U team. At the same time, I had gone back to college to get a degree in Physical Education. While I got my first high school coaching job later that year – it was in cheerleading. It wasn’t until 1999 when I finally landed a high school softball coaching position.

What do you see as your best coaching memory?
There are so many great moments in coaching. My high school highlights would include winning the NYSPHSAA Championship in 2007 and being named NYS Coach of the Year and then becoming Championship Runners Up in 2018, after losing the final game 2-1.

In club ball, we won tied the Triple Crown 18U East Coast Nationals in Myrtle Beach in 2015 with rain preventing a final game. And I’ll never forget in 2013, coming back from an 0-3 Saturday to win five games back-to-back with one pitcher on Sunday, to win the Tournament Championship.

But, it’s not the wins that make the memories. It’s the opportunity to coach some absolutely awesome young ladies who are not just dedicated and talented, but truly amazing people.

What was your biggest coaching disaster?
In our first year coaching a club team, we didn’t take into account the importance of team bonding and team play. We chose very talented individuals for the team, but they were just that – individuals. A team with that much talent should have been winning game after game, but we couldn’t get out of our own way. We had cliques and “mean girls” and sadly, some of the parents were just as bad as the girls.

The experience was so unpleasant that it was almost our first and last year of coaching travel ball. Fortunately, we sat down with a seasoned travel coach who gave us some great advice. We reassessed how we chose players (and parents!) the following year and it made a tremendous difference. Here we are, 16 years later, still loving it!

What is your coaching philosophy?
When our athletes leave, we want them to say their time with us was a positive, rewarding experience. We want them to not only grow and develop their skills as an athlete, but also as responsible, caring citizens and leaders. We want them to learn. To laugh. To love.

Our hope is that our athletes feel a love of the sport, as well as to feel our care and love for them as players and individuals.

How did you nail your team culture?
We learned long ago that team culture is important, but found it difficult to implement some of the things we do with our club team into our high school team. After tryouts, our club team has almost nine months together before we start playing tournaments, as opposed to high school where we have just a couple weeks to teach and practice together before three to five games a week are shoved into a three-month season.

The most significant change in our coaching culture came after listening to University of Michigan’s head coach, Carol Hutchins, a few years ago at Be the Best. Her speech on culture was so tremendous that it motivated me to take a hard look at our teams (particularly our high school team) and make significant changes to our routines and rituals.

We incorporated many of Coach Hutchins’ ideas, finding that even little things like adding motivational quotes to our calendars and hanging inspirational signs in our locker room and dugout helped reinforce the positive culture we wanted for our team.

We also learned that team bonding was essential to achieve our goals, so we made sure we took the time to prioritize it into our busy schedule. We had previously believed we couldn’t afford to give up precious time for team bonding with our high school team, but after listening to Coach Hutchins, we realized we couldn’t afford not to! We found it didn’t take all that much time and the rewards were invaluable.

How do you know when you’ve made an impact on a player?
The impact we have on players is most evident by the relationships we still have with them long after they’ve moved on. Last week we had dinner with a former player who was in town for the holidays, after which she sent this message:

Little did I know 9 years ago that you two would be the most inspiring people I’d ever meet. Thank you for showing me that hard work, a kind heart, and a LOT of laughs are the most important things in life! Can’t wait for the next time! Love you guys!

That’s how you know you’ve made a difference.

In keeping with the tradition that Be the Best is a convention created for coaches by coaches, we’ve asked for inspirations and stories from your contemporaries. Click here to share something about your coaching journey. Don’t worry about making it sound good — you coach the kids, we‘ll work the words.