US Elite forming new teams in the Midwest

US Elite Director, Mark Helsel, announced Tuesday that new US Elite teams are forming in the midwest. Helsel said some teams will be formed and playing this fall, while others are forming for the 2019 season. “As always, our expansion starts with finding great people. We have been fortunate to attract talented leadership for the midwest region”. Specifically, Helsel said Tom Aspero (founder of Diamond Hit Club) and Pat Thompson will be key to the expansion. “Both Tom and Pat are very well respected and well connected individuals in the midwest. Tom runs a great program and is an Associate Scout for the NY Mets. Pat played at Ohio State and is a highly successful and respected business owner. They both have a keen understanding of the landscape of travel baseball are extremely passionate about bringing the US Elite model to the midwest”.

Helsel says there is a lot of interest from high level players in the midwest already. “Certainly there are well established and well respected programs in the midwest. However, the model that we bring is very different”. Over the last 12 years US Elite’s formula for success has been to place a high focus on quality, not quantity. Teams are formed with players who have been specifically recruited from a wide geographic area (multiple states). Helsel says talent is important, but that is only part of what US Elite looks for in a player. “We are not a “travel baseball” program. We are not forming teams just for the sake of adding more teams. We are a individual player development/college placement program. That means that the success of the individual in our program is very important. Our goal is to help each of our players reach their goals. With this model, we have a nearly 100% success rate of helping our seniors move on to college and/or pro baseball”. Since 2006 US Elite has helped over 400 players move on to college and/or pro baseball. See List HERE. “There is a formula for success. We like to get players as early as 12U so we can have time to help them develop properly. We focus on the things that matter to college recruiters, like academics, leadership, baseball IQ, character, makeup, body language, being a great teammate, and playing the game with hustle and respect”. Helsel says players must also have the talent to play after high school. “Less than 2% of the population of baseball players get to play D1 baseball, yet 98% of our players do. If we select a player it’s because we believe we can help them get a scholarship to play baseball in college”.

Helsel says developing a very large and loyal following of college recruiters is also part of the organization’s success. “College coaches want players that transition well into college and can play as freshman. Over the years we have earned their respect. They know how we develop our players and they know we run a very disciplined program. So, naturally, they look to our program as a reliable source of players who have been well groomed for them. Our organization does a fantastic job of promoting our players to college coaches. When we promote a player to a college coach they know they can trust that recommendation. That’s a huge advantage to our players”.

When Helsel says Midwest he is mainly talking about OH, KY and IN. “We’re focused in those states right now because that is where we have solid leadership. Eventually, I’m sure we’ll be in the other midwestern states”. US Elite plans to begin with teams at 12U up to 17U. “Initially, we’ll start with one team in each age group for the entire region. The quality of a team you can form with this model is very high.  Again, it’s like being on a college team, just at a younger age”, said Helsel.

One of the most common questions Helsel gets asked is “what about team practice”. Helsel says the US Elite model does not require team’s to practice together. “It’s a logical question, and something that many people are accustomed to because they’ve been playing on a local or regional team that practices together. The majority of our teams do not practice together as a team because of the distance the players live from each other. Instead, all of our players, are given an IDP (Individual Development Plan) that they focus on back home. The reality is we are much more interested in their individual skill set because at the end of the day that’s what determines if they get to play at the next level. We have proven two things unequivocally, 1.) You don’t need to practice as a team to win. Our organizational winning percentage is well over 90% so I think we’ve dispelled the myth that you have to practice as a team to win games”. 2.) Using your time wisely on individual skill set development is a much better model than spending time at team practices, if the goal is to get a scholarship”.

Helsel is clear to point out that his organization is not for everyone. “We have a lot of disciplines built in to our program such as GPA requirements, community outreach, curfews, assignments, and a very clear code of ethics for players, parents and coaches. It’s a much smaller percentage of the population of baseball players who are willing to conduct themselves according to what we call “uncommon standards”. However, for the right player, this is exactly the type of program they are looking for. Even our parents are held to very high standards”.

Players who are interested in being recruited into US Elite should fill out a Prospect Form on the US Elite website. It is encouraged to include video. Players may also attend a Diamond Hit Club tryout found here.

Experienced coaches in the midwest who are interested in learning more about forming a US Elite team should complete the Coach Application.