By: Trey Donovan

The next iteration of the Tulsa Elite Summer Invite is coming up on June 7. The tournament has been held since 2011 and has become a key tournament for many softball teams throughout the states to travel to. It has also garnered a ton of attention from the collegiate scene as the tournament is a good showcase for college recruiters to look for new players.

Before the tournament became a key element of the summer season, Tulsa Elite Sports has hosted tournaments since 2007. The tournament has seen a lot of teams compete over the past 13 years and has seen many players get recruited to schools.

The tournament has become a national phenomenon in the softball world and many of the sport’s current stars have played in it – Rylie Boone, Megan Grant, Kayla Beavers, NjJaree Canaday, Jayda Coleman, and Lexi McDonald to name a few. All of these players are playing in the Women’s College World Series this week.

With stars coming from all around the states, the tournament has become a spot for college coaches to recruit. Tulsa Elite Sports built the tournament to be a showcase opportunity for the 18u and 16u teams to be recruited. The tournament has seen more and more players recruited in recent years due to the growth of the event over the years.

The tournament is split between two parks, separated by age groups, at Arrowhead Park in Broken Arrow, OK and Bentley Park in Bixby, OK. The 18u and 16u teams play at Arrowhead Park while the 14u and 12u teams play at Bentley Park. Initially, that wasn’t the setup for the tournament.

“The first year [of the tournament] was in Bixby, Oklahoma with only four fields, 16 teams, and around 15 college coaches,” founder of Tulsa Elite Sports Jeff Filali said. “The intention was always to build a strong recruiting event that catered to recruiting. In 2013 we moved [16u and 18u] to Arrowhead Park after we expanded to 96 teams.”

The motto of Tulsa Elite Sports running events has been “Quality over Quantity,” and the Tulsa Elite Summer Invite is no different. Their goal is to maximize college exposure, cater to college coaches and travel teams, all while not growing out of control and “lose their value.” Since Tulsa Elite Sports started hosting tournaments, they have focused on getting the top competitors in one spot giving them opportunities to play and showcase their talents to college recruiters.

“While coaching Tulsa Elite starting in 2007 and as a former college coach at Butler CC, I traveled nationwide to almost every event out there. Many of them started growing so big that they had to use more and more complexes to fit all the teams,” Filali said. “This spreads all the teams out, but most of the college coaches only go to the main few parks where the best teams are playing. All the teams are paying the same entry fee, but those playing at complexes further away from the main complexes do not see many college coaches or scouts, if any.”

The plan, according to Filali, is to always stay in one complex for the tournament to give every team and athlete a chance to get scouted. That is what he means by “Quality over Quantity” when running the tournament.

In the fourteenth iteration of the tournament don’t expect anything to change as the best of the best will be there alongside college recruiters. The tournament is a melting pot of talent and opportunity for everyone involved and it will be a competitive fight for the top spot in all age groups, just as Tulsa Elite Sports intended from the start.

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