By Jeff Strange

2023 was a very rewarding season for Oklahoma City based Epic 18u National (Smith). Head coach Scotty Smith and his staff have thrived off an extremely high-energy approach with their program, with even higher goals set in front of themselves to work hard to achieve.

With an emphasis on coaching fundamentals and teaching the game, while also constantly learning for themselves, Coach Smith and his staff continue to emphasize evolving in the game with continued intentions to provide as much knowledge and information as possible to their athletes.

The fruits of their labor have set in nicely, as highlights for the 2023 season included:

  • Bringing home championships at both the Top Club Spring and Fall invites
  • A 2nd place at Hustle City Invite
  • A 5-0 showing at the 2023 Top Gun Summer Invite before being shut down due to rain
  • An 8th place finish at 2023 Alliance Championship
  • Winning 3 of the 4 Fall events that were played

Now looking ahead to 2024, we caught up with Coach Smith on his thoughts for the upcoming season:

Can you give some background information on your coaching staff and coaching styles?

“Myself – Head Coach Scotty Smith has been coaching competitive softball for 17+ years. Starting with beginning levels and working up through each level. It all started with my daughters Jaiden and Mikayla.

We have been fortunate that to have some of the best assistant coaches that a coach could ask for over the past few years – Tony Smith, Jimmy Conley, and Matt George.

This year, our staff will included assistant coaches Michael Freeman, Ryan Dill and Dantae Mitchell. This looks to be an exciting staff filled with knowledge, energy, and ready to push the girls in all the right directions.

As a coaching staff we are all on the same page with this team on where they are at, and where they are going and what needs to happen along the way.”

Does your team face any challenges with schedules? If yes, how do you manage that?

“There are always obstacles to face when you have a larger National team with athletes from all over the place, but our girls are very driven and work hard to accomplish their goals.

I keep in constant contact with each athlete, regardless of whether they are from Oklahoma or out of state. I make sure they are not just doing what they need to be doing as far as softball goes, but check on the academics, and other things happening in their lives. I make myself available at all times if they need.

Typically, we do not have too much trouble filling a high-level roster as we graduate athletes every year. We have been blessed building a younger-aged culture to help step into the roles of our graduates. Being a newer program (the EPIC Fastpitch organization is starting in its 4th year), we have had a large amount of players join from outside of our organization. I believe moving forward we will have a larger pull from within the organization as we constantly are building our younger athletes up to be the absolute best they can be. This will be our testimony to our true growth.

One thing Epic takes pride in is building athletes up, guiding them, training them, and teaching them from a young age and up.”

What are your primary goals and objectives for your team?

“With this team being an older team made up of mostly older high school-aged players, I would say that our goal is to continue to get better in our craft, have fun and win! We also want to create a competitive atmosphere while preparing for college. We have a roster of 22 girls and out of those 22 girls, 18 have already signed with colleges for next year.

I also want to teach them what to expect in the years to come – what does college ball look like, what to expect from academics and athletics in college and what will be expected from them on and off the fields. My goal is for them to go in as prepared as they possibly can be for nothing short of complete success.”

In your opinion, what traits make your organization unique?

“Our family atmosphere – with most everyone involved – truly cares for our young athletes. Not just what they are doing right now, but where they are headed during their college years and even adult years after that.

We also take a lot of pride in the training that our athletes receive and where they get it. We make sure all of the training staff available are the best of the best, with years of knowledge and experience. We strive to make sure that the training facilities that are available to them are the best they can be.

Additionally, we are constantly looking for new events to attend, or programs to get the athletes involved with.”

Can you give some analysis/perspective on your team for 2024?

“This is tough because I have so many very talented young athletes! We are a team and it takes contribution from all of our athletes pulling on the same rope in the same direction. That’s how we will be successful – through hard work and a true team-based atmosphere; energy brings positive vibes and a great culture.”

What are your short-term goals for your team?

“Our short term goals for this year would be to continue to help the few still uncommitted athletes to find a great home for college so they can continue to pursue their dreams.”

What are your long-term goals for your team?

“Our long term goals are to continue to be successful and help prepare my athletes for college and life after college. I don’t just want to see them succeed while I have them, but want to continue to watch their success for years to come.”

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