We are honored and thrilled to be able to introduce Taran Avelo as apart of the Ground Force Sports team! Taran is not only KILLING the game, but she is one of the sweetest members of the softball community we have had the pleasure of welcoming to our team of players, coaches, trainers, and affiliates. Not only is her experience impressive, her future is bright and the fast-pitch community will know her name for years and years to come as both player and coach. We got the chance to sit down with Taran and ask her some questions about her journey of playing, where shes headed, and what she thinks of the Queen of the Hill!
Q: Tell us about your background in fastpitch!
Like everyone in the sport, I started playing softball at the earliest age possible with T-ball then on to coach pitch. After those first few years of playing my parents noticed that I seemed to have a gift for this sport, however it wasn’t until about a year into 10u that I really started to excel. I started pitching around this time, and actually got brought up to the 12u team as a 10 year-old. That’s where the whirlwind of travel ball took off for me and my family. I started out with some local teams until after my last year of 14u and then made the switch to the 18u Beverly Bandits from Chicago. During this time I also made my verbal commitment to the University of Washington where I would go on to pitch and be a 2x-All American, 3x Women’s College World Series participant and National Runner up. I also am a pitcher for the Puerto Rican National team where we have won Gold in the Central American Games and took Bronze in the Pan-American Games. I now play professionally and pitch for the Chicago Bandits and Athletes Unlimited.
Q: What do you love about fastpitch? What keeps you motivated to keep playing?
When first starting this crazy game its all I really knew. Yes I loved it but I didn’t know exactly what it was about the game that I loved. The competitiveness, the success, the lessons taught, all of it wrapped up together. But now, after being all across the world to play this game, to playing it on the biggest, most elite stage possible I can say that I love this sport for changing my life. For giving me a life, for giving me a college education. This game has shaped me to become the person I am today, to want to give back to the communities I come from, and to help mold and shape young girls become bright, talented and strong women through this sport. That is was keeps me motivated, is the growth that is coming from our sport and the potential it has in the future.
Q: What does your future look like in the game/as a part of the game?
As of right not my future is strong in the game, both playing and coaching. I have played college softball, I am currently playing internationally and professionally. I have coached at the college level, I am now wanting to create my own brand for pitching and mental development through a cheaper or non-profit clinic that goes to lower income areas to give the best knowledge and softball education possible.
Q: Who do you look up to in the game/in life?
There are many players that have inspired my life, as well as coaches that have shaped me and given me the guidance I needed to be successful. And every single one of them have filed that role in my life as the inspiration or someone I look up to in the game.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you saw the Queen of the Hill?
I want it. And I want to know more about it!
Q: What are your thoughts NOW on the Queen of the Hill?
In my pitching mechanics I have always done what the Queen of the Hill teaches naturally, but I never knew how to explain it or continue to work on my own development to make me even better. Now I have that option and I love that I can now use this tool to help develop not only myself but every young girl I work with.
Q: How do you use the Queen of the Hill in your training and with your students?
I focus a lot of the individual and how they are performing. I know that each pitcher I work with is completely different in their mechanics and how their body works. So this being said, I have a handful of training options based around the Queen of the Hill that targets leg drive, weight shift, balance and explosion.
Q: What type of improvement have you seen from using the Queen of the Hill?
In myself I have found a huge increase in foot awareness when driving off the mound. I am able to physically feel the push off of the device and the feedback it instantly gives. And as for my younger pitchers I have seen a dramatic change in their performance from their leg drive, their footwork, their velocity and body awareness as well.
Q: Any advice you would give to other players in using their Queen of the Hill?
This is truly an investment that will help mechanics and create major improvements in young, developing pitchers. Its also extremely helpful to more advanced players who know how their bodies work and move.
Q: What does a typical day of training look like for you?
Depends on the time of year and what my playing season is going to look like. But I usually try to focus on low pitch count and more mechanic based stuff for the off season. Giving myself one or two goals for that practice and execute them. As my season starts to grow closer I try to increase my pitch count as well as my duration of time. I usually try to get one to two live batting practices in a week as I start to phase into season.
Q: What does a typical session look like for you when you are working with students?
I break them down to their basic mechanics and we work on the small fundamental aspects that make a huge difference in the overall product of the pitch. I also like to work mental game with them as the session goes on, so I am forcing them to think outside of their comfort zones and try to perform under that stress. I feel like the mental side of what we do is not truly worked on as much in individual pitching lessons and I try to change that along with their mechanics.
Q: Any advice you would give to other players who want to play at an elite level as you have?
Pitching is extremely hard, both mentally and physically. It a continuous struggle for success, but when you do succeed the joy you feel overrides all hardships. So keep working, keep failing and learning so that way when the time gets tough, you know how to always get back up.
Be sure to follow Taran on Instagram (@tarannnn) and twitter (@tarannn_14), to follow her journey, receive special GFS partnership promotions (she may have something special on there for you NOW...wink wink), and to keep up to date on some exciting things she has coming!
As always, if you have any questions about GFS products, training, or want to chat about how the Queen of the Hill can help benefit you or your players, please contact us at email@example.com!
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