MADERA – The city of Madera will play host to hundreds of girls from ages 6 to 18 for a massive softball tournament taking place Friday, July 26 through the following Tuesday.
The Bobby Sox Softball National Tournament of Champions currently has 54 teams from throughout California and as far away as Hawaii to compete in Madera over the course of the tournament.
Local Bobby Sox official and tournament organizer Debbie Magos said teams are excited to come to Madera.
“All the years we have traveled, we have the best fields of any town we have played in,” she said. “We are the only town that gets to play all in one area. In LA we’re on two different fields, in Vacaville we were in three different fields. We’re the only ones who have fields and have lights.”
That makes it easy for parents who have multiple kids playing so they don’t have to head to different places to watch their young athletes compete.
Tourism officials said the tournament will have a substantial economic impact on Madera and the surrounding area.
“They have every hotel room in Madera sold out, plus Chowchilla,” said Jarrod Lyman, director of PR for the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau. “They’re spilling out even beyond that as well. There’s a lot of money being spent here on hotel rooms alone.”
Magos agreed, relaying one anecdote that highlighted the dollars being spent.
“I had a parent come with a donation check, and he works at Madera Glass Plant,” Magos said. “That weekend, that Thursday and Friday, they have a bunch of bigwigs coming in. When they asked for a donation from for this tournament, the bosses said ‘So you’re the reason we can’t find a hotel room for that weekend.’”
Add in the money that will be spent at local restaurants, stores and other area businesses, and it will add up quickly.
Another reason so many people are excited about the location is the fact that Madera is ideally situated for such events.
“Madera really is central California, just a few hours gets you to most destinations in the state,” Lyman said. “It makes Madera a great place to hold regional and even national events, as it allows for the least travel time for everyone.”
“Add in the wealth of attractions and activities throughout Madera County, such as Yosemite, the Fossil Discovery Center, the Madera Wine Trail, Bass Lake and so much more, people have a great time here,” Lyman continued. “They have a lot to see and do when during their down time between games.”
While final preparations for the tournament are already under way, the local Bobby Sox group could still use some help from the local community to make it happen. Donations of water or Gatorade and other items would benefit the local association.
“All the fees go to the national office, the only money we make is at the snack bar,” Magos said.
That money goes back to help put on this event and also sends the local Bobby Sox teams to other tournaments leading up to the national championship each year.
All told there will be as many as, if not more, than 1,000 people in Madera playing a lot of softball, and people are getting excited.
“It’s going to be great for Madera, that’s all I can say,” Magos said.