The first Bombers' team was called the Crystal Lake National Bombers. Our introductory season was 1997. The inclusion of National in the team's name signified the support that originated from the Crystal Lake National Little League. Leaders in the National League were the club's pioneers, and the first teams were formed specifically to improve the travel team experience for National's graduating All-Star players.Within two years, the club became the Crystal Lake Bombers. While the name was shortened, the club's commitment was expanded. Still proud of our service to National League families, we believed our program was an attractive option for families from other leagues and communities.
With the name change, the booster tradition for team organization was adopted. For the 1999 season, two youthful coaches were hired to manage the 13-year-old team. Player development and team play were emphasized. Each year the team progressed, and as 15 year olds in 2001, the Bombers were crowned Illinois CABA champions. As our state's official representative, we finished in 5th place in the CABA World Series. The success of these Bombers, and the principles that guided the team's operation, created the foundation for our current and future teams.
In 2005 we began operations as an Illinois nonprofit corporation. In 2007 the official name of the organization was changed to Crystal Lake Bombers Baseball, Inc. We are an educational 501(c)(3) organization. Donations to the Bombers are tax deductible.
Travel baseball teams are formed to accelerate player development. The vision of a competitive baseball program is to help athletes prepare for success at a level of play beyond their current experience. Youth teams aim to prepare players to compete at the high school level; varsity or senior teams prepare players to play at the collegiate level.
Our baseball program is rooted in education. Knowing, understanding, and performing fundamental skills are the foundation for playing excellence. To elevate a player's skill, knowledge and understanding must be increased and conditioned by the third component, regular opportunities to perform.
Becoming a winner is part of the process of player development. Winning is more than the score of a game; it is the way to play the game. Learning to become a winner requires belief, preparation, discipline, confidence, diligence, perseverance, respect and support for others. These values are emphasized throughout Bombers' training and participation.
Parents are boosters. Compared to most youth baseball travel teams, this general principle sets our program apart. All parents have equal status as club members, because none of them operate the team as coaches. Coaching duties are entrusted to a paid staff (ASEP certified), and the coaches make decisions independently, in accord with the club's primary goals for player development. Just like the high school teams for whom our Bombers will eventually play, our parents' primary role is providing support and encouragement for the team. When this principle is applied, our players enjoy a very positive atmosphere, enhancing their Bombers' experience.
Our program starts at the 10-year-old level, an appropriate age for players to embrace the unique challenges and adventure associated with travel team play.
Competing at the AAA and majors level (USSSA), we are identified as a select travel program. Our teams compete in established travel leagues, including the Mid Suburban Baseball League (MSBL), Suburban Power Baseball League (SPBL), McHenry County Baseball League (MCBL), and the Fox Valley Network (FVN).
A typical Bombers' spring team has a roster of 13 or more players. It is important that every player competes equally to earn a roster spot, and we believe the tryout process is the best way to ensure this. Unlike other travel teams, in advance of the tryout, we do not recruit or make special commitments to individual players or groups of players.
To select our teams, we conduct competitive and open tryouts. Club members operate the tryout with assistance from independent coaches and baseball representatives. Tryout dates, times, and locations are published in the Northwest Herald newspaper and also on our web site. An exception to the tryout process is the selection of varsity or senior teams: players can be recruited based on recommendations from varsity coaches at local high schools.
Bombers teams are coached by ASEP certified baseball instructors. It is an organizational goal to have every team coached by staff members without family ties to the players and parents. While there have been exceptions, our club is firmly committed to the principle of independent coaches. To fulfill this goal, we regularly seek to recruit qualified and professional baseball coaches to both instruct and manage our teams.
After a team is formed, parents meet with our club's Senior Vice President, who outlines club policies and procedures. With his guidance, parents customize a plan for the team. From various options, they decide dates for the season, conference affiliation, number of conference and non-conference games to schedule, venues and number of tournaments to enter, off-season elective training opportunities and participation. A team budget is prepared; parents solicit sponsorships and conduct fundraising to finance the team's competition budget. Donations by individuals and businesses are tax deductible.
The Senior Vice President appoints an administrator for the team. The administrator schedules games, and makes the necessary arrangements for all team meetings, elective training, and field events. To administer the team's finances, parents elect a team treasurer and a fundraising coordinator.
The Bombers travel baseball club is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Each team represents the Bombers club. Coaches, players, and parents of our member teams are expected to comply with club policies, principles, and procedures. Should any member violate club policies, the club may choose to disassociate.
The Crystal Lake Bombers club and/or its members maintain affiliation with the AABC (American Amateur Baseball Congress), ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association), CLCC (Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce), CLPD (Crystal Lake Park District), NABF (National Amateur Baseball Federation), USABA (United States Amateur Baseball Association), USSSA Baseball (United States Specialty Sports Association), and USTOC (United States Tournament of Champions).