In the ever spinning world of Fast pitch softball there are always large obstacles to work through to reach excellence for both athletes and coaches. These obstacles can be a variety of things and play a role to success. Researching and gathering factual information I have found that coach Thomas Flanigan has delivered to North Texas athletes and have helped them reach unthinkable goals.
Coach Thomas Flanigan is a father, a husband, a family man who finds ways to devote his time to North Texas Athletes to ensure the growth as athletes. Let's face it; the most valuable thing you can give a person is your time.
Coach Flanigan started his coaching career in 1999 with team express, at that time he worked many hours with his employers, at times 60 hours a week as a Co-Manager. Yet, he was able to give back to the community by helping young athletes to reach their true potential and found a way to devote time to his family as well. In fact, in 2004 while a Co-Manager at Wal-Mart he was named the "HERO" award with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The "HERO" award is the most prestigious award given by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The award is based on a lot of factors; the most weighed factor is someone's contributions to the community.
In 2004 as a coach for Texas Elite, his team was honored with the Sportsman Ship award and Trophy at Nationals in Arkansas. Their team went on to finish 3rd. Based on research it's rare to place in the top 5 if you're a team from Texas. Even more rare to receive the Sportsmanship award when you place that high in a National tournament.
Following the 2004 championship season coach Flanigan teamed up with Dan Adkins Glory. In 2005 he coached a team to a 12th place finish at Nationals as a Glory Team. Although his employers demanded the long hours of retail, he found a way to help others.
In 2006 Coach Thomas Flanigan led his team to a National Championship, something that has never been done before from any team in North Texas. California traditonally owned most all National Championships, typically placing in the first 4 spots. A major accomplishment to say the least for his Glory team. In fact, Texas has two national championships, one, was the Cruisers when Kat Osterman pitched them to a title, and coach Flanigans team. In 2007 his team suffered a few key injuries in the starting pitching rotation. Even with the key injuries to their rotation his team managed to place in the top 12 at the Hall of Fame Championships held at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma. This secured their spot at Nationals. Their pitcher would not return from injury – broke ankle – until the week of Nationals. Still the Glory team traveled to California and placed 27th at the National Championships.
In 2008 there were some differences between Kevin Shelton & Dan Adkins who were both long standing Glory leaders. They are friends today; however that did not change the split of the Glory organization. During that time Coach Thomas Flanigan was approached to move his team to the Kruzers and was offered a sponsorship to do so.
In fast pitch softball sponsors really do not exist. The burden of fees is typically put on parents and sometimes coaches. To have the opportunity to have a financially free team and focus on skills was a huge advantage. The team decided to make the move and Coach Thomas Flanigan accepted the role as head coach. Previously he was the head coach / manager on other teams he operated with. The duties of a head coach and a Manager are quite different. He was able to put his infinite time into coaching the athletes. Before, he was dealing with team dues, player registration, rosters and parents. Now, he was able to focus on pure softball, Ron Withee, the team manager would handle all other aspects. Including rosters, insurance, player signings etc ….
In 2008 coach Thomas Flanigan led the Kruzer team to a Hall of Fame Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, another first for North Texas. The team went on to finish 7th at the National Championships in 2008. In 2009 the team finished 12th at the Hall of Fame Championships as well as claimed another birth to the National Championships.
In 2009 the Kruzer team was disqualified from the National Championships for having an illegal pick up player on their roster. I had to dig deep to find answers to this, as Coach Thomas Flanigan has a squeaky clean background based on information from asa and coaches background checks. While rules in the asa hand book are open to interpretation and it was difficult to comprehend. The conclusion stated that a player registered under Dallas Metro who played in a National Qualifier is not eligible to be a pick up player for a Ft Worth Metro team for Nationals.
Here is where the rules were an overlooked on the Team Managers part. I do not believe the team manager tried to break the rules to register a pick up player? When the team manager asked to register the player as a Ft Worth Metro player and add her to the roster as a pick up player is legal or not? At this point the rule book makes no claim to that. However, it is the JO of that Metro who approves the registration, and in this situation, it was the managers responsibility to follow the channels to register a player. At some point the JO or Manager of team should have known, one would think? In fact, based on information I gathered, the JO or the team manager registering the player would know through some channel of communication or online registration. There is a lot to be said to that. The fact remains Coach Thomas Flanigan was the head coach of the team, regardless of who registers the players or who signs the roster, who approves the registration, who is accountable for it or I would say it's open to opinion for sure.
Is the team manager responsible for all aspects of the team, to my knowledge even disposing of players, coaches etc …. yes! The manager of the team is not only responsible but accountable as well. Again, I am basing this on ASA facts as to who is extremely accountable, and it's not the head coach, it's the appointed Manager of the team who took and has full responsibility of the team, coaches, parents, registrations etc … I have found with most teams only one designated person to perform both roles. Most are listed as head coach / manager.
Not to place blame on anyone, including the Manager / Sponsor of the team. Based on the information I gathered the Kruzers management did everything by the book. Unfortunately, that did not work and the team was disqualified. The ironic part of the story is the pick-up player was young, two years younger than current team members and she was added to the roster as a pick up player for emergency services if needed. In fact, the athlete never stepped foot on the field in any of the teams game. Ironic?
Coach Thomas Flanigan has battled through obstacles and led young athletes to places that only few have been. In 2009, North Texas lost a great coach; leader and motivator to fast pitch softball. Unfortunate for North Texas Athletes. Unfortunate for athletes he mentored for years, as the best finish for the Kruzers has been 33rd since his departure. My research proved worthy, and I only write based on facts, not hear say or rumors. I could not find any suspension, or any factual information that stated coach Flanigan had been suspended for a year for having an illegal pick up player at Nationals. Again, I did verify the team was disqualified. Digging as deep as I could, I found that Coach Thomas Flanigan left coaching of fast pitch softball for many other reasons.
First, I found that it's a cruel and somewhat evil softball world, at least for some in North Texas. How does, or would anyone make ridiculous statements about anyone they do not personally know? Even a man with quality leadership, character and strong will can only take so much. It is unfortunate that we lost a coach that has led North Texas athletes through mentoring programs, clinics and individual skill training.
I laugh when I write Coach Thomas Flanigan may be the Bill Belicheck of fast pitch softball, you love him or you hate him. To even mention coach Flannigan's name with Bill is an over statement to say the least. However, in the world of fast pitch softball, that's who he is. Would you play for Bill? Ummm – YES! I still hate him though, because he is not coaching my team. He coaches the competition of my team.
In my most recent research, Coach Thomas Flanigan is in umpiring school and planning to umpire at the Division 1 Fast pitch softball level, and I have also learned recently that he may make a decision to come back to coaching fast pitch softball. Could this be true? If so, North Texas would have honored to have him coach here again.
Thank you for reading my article.