Les Anderson - Founder
Dr. Les Anderson received his doctorate from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1996. His doctoral work focused on temporal changes in the basal forebrain concomitant with the onset of puberty in animals. While pursuing his doctoral degree, Dr. Anderson received extensive training in Neuroscience at the Medical School at OSU. Dr. Anderson’s training in neuroscience and his analytical background greatly contributed to the development of SwingD and the analysis of strike reflex training. Dr. Anderson is currently a full professor in the Department of Animal & Food Science at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Les Anderson has 18 years of coaching experience in fastpitch softball. He has coached at many levels (rec, travel, HS, NAIA) and has coached in 1,526 total games and amassed 1,152 wins. Coach Anderson founded the Kentucky Rockers Softball Club in 1999 and the Kentucky Softball Club in 2008. He has coached in 4 state title games, winning two. Coach Anderson has taken 5 teams to ASA Nationals and finished 33rd, 5th, and 17th, in 2009, 2014, and 2015, respectively. Dr. Anderson currently coaches the Louisville Stunners 99. This club completed the 2014 season ranked #17 nationally (14U) by Goldfastpitch.com. The Stunners 99 had a good year in 2015 and finished ranked as #49 nationally by Flosoftball.com (16U).
The article below was published in 2015 by Flosoftball.com.
Team Profile: Louisville Stunners 99 (12/14)
So you have a group of girls who are talented and you want to build a competitive club team… how do you do it?
Coach Les Anderson led his Stunners 99 team to a 5th place finish at ASA Nationals. It’s not easy to start a club program and separate yourself from all the other top teams in the country, but in a short amount of time the Louisville (Ky.) Stunners 99 squad has built a winning blueprint and emerged as a successful national team, finishing tied for 5th at this year’s ASA 14U National Championship held in San Diego.
Head Coach Les Anderson, who has a PhD in Neuroendocrinology, tells us about his Kentuckybased team now playing at the 16U level and his philosophies on how—though he admits it hasn’t been easy— his coaches, players and parents have become so good so fast!
FullCountSoftball.com: When did the team/program start and how and why did it come to be?
Les Anderson: The Louisville Stunners organization has been in existence for about 10 years. The Stunners have long been recognized in Kentucky and surrounding states as aquality organization but the Stunners have not traditionally competed out of this region. Our team was formed in the fall of 2013 with the goal of pushing ourselves and becoming nationally relevant. This group of players and parents are totally dedicated to that end.
FCS.com: Where are you based? Where do your athletes come from (all locally, some out of state?)
LA: Our athletes are spread throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
FCS.com: What was the purpose of creating the team (showcase players, win titles, develop skills, etc.)?
LA: The true purpose of form team was to assemble a group of players that were good enough and dedicated enough to play at the highest levels. Our team was formed with two major foci: first, we wanted to challenge ourselves to compete at the highest levels of competition possible. Our players, coaches, and parents enjoy the challenge of playing and competing with the best teams in the U.S. Second, by competing at this level, we hope to attract the interest of college coaches to enable our players to continue to play and compete.
FCS.com: What have been some of your successes in terms of winning or placing at events?
LA: Our team has been highly successful. The current team came together under the Stunners name in the fall of 2013. We began play by winning the Queen of Diamonds in Rock Hill, S.C. (a very underrated tournament which draws many of the best teams from Maryland to South Carolina). We finished that fall by winning our pool and finishing runnerup in our division at the Scenic 16. We were very successful last summer. We received a berth to the 14U PGF Premier Nationals and the ASA 14U A Nationals in San Diego. Our crowning achievement was our run in San Diego. We ended up finishing 5th losing only to the Lil Rebels from Vegas and the SoCal Athletics – Quarles (the ASA champion, PGF runnerup). This fall, we played a showcase schedule so a win/loss record is meaningless. Our best weekend overall this fall was in Chicago. We opened the weekend by sweeping a double header with a good Bartlett Silverhawks team. We then shut out the next five teams (Indiana Magic Gold – Green, Mizuno Hawks – Judge, Wasco Diamonds, Quad City Firebirds, and Fire Pro Fastpitch).
FCS.com: What makes the organization unique?
LA: Only thing unique about our organization is its late arrival to the natione. Our club wants to push our level of play to become a highly respected national club. This is a hard road to travel and, if we keep developing and play well, eventually we will receive the respect we seek. The Stunners 14U team is one of six in the Kentuckybased organization.
FCS.com: What’s your softball background and how did you get to the point of leading the team?
LA: Like many coaches, I began coaching softball because my daughters – I have four who played – wanted to play. My coaching career began in 1999 and I have coached a bunch of games (1,352) at several levels (rec, travel, middle school, high school, NAIA), and been fairly successful (1,067 wins). Two things drive me as a coach: one is a love for competition and the other is a love for teaching. FCS.com: How many teams are there in the organization overall? LA: The Louisville Stunners organization consists of six teams; an 18U (97), two 16U (98, 99), two 14U (00, 01), and a 12U (03).
FCS.com: Has there been a key moment or defining experience in the team’s history?
LA: One defining moment was our 5th place finish at ASA Nationals. Also, our final ranking of 17th by goldfastpitch.com really has increased our club’s recognition.
FCS.com: What is your primary focus or goal with this team?
LA: As mentioned earlier, our foci are to compete nationally with the best teams in the country and to develop our players so that they can receive offers to play softball in college. This group of players and parents are brave. They decided to develop a new “brand,” forge a new path and create a national identity for the Stunners. The easier path would have been to try out for nationally recognized clubs in our region like the Bandits, Impact, Vipers, Fury, and so forth. Perhaps that would have been the smarter path too but these players really enjoy each other and this team and want make this happen. On a side note: to be blunt, I didn’t realize it would be so hard. I thought talent and performance would be important and the biggest factor determining college interest. But it seems that club history and coaching connections are considerably more important. I understand that it is a riskmanagement issue and that college coaches will be attracted to players from programs with a history of developing talent. Personally, it makes more sense to me to wait until the players are a bit more mature before offers are made.
FCS.com: What do you think are the strengths of the team?
LA: We have several strengths. First, our pitching is outstanding. We have three pitchers that each throw in the lowmid 60’s, with great stuff, and good command. Each pitcher brings something different to the circle. Bethany Todd brings an incredible riseball, Caitlin Karo works a really heavy drop and nasty screwball, and Shelby Nunn is a master of locating her pitches and her change is simply sick. Offensively, we are extremely disciplined at the plate. We train with the Vflex system which helps our girls be more discerning at the plate. Our real strength is our competitiveness and this group is just loaded with real gamers; kids that simply refuse to lose. This is the hardest attribute to quantify but also one of the most important for a player. It was funny to watch my kids play in the showcases this fall. The concept confused and upset them. They wanted to compete for the win. “Why can’t the coaches just watch us play to win?” In only a year, the Louisville Stunners 99 team has become one of the best in the nation at the 14U level.
FCS.com: If there is one thing you would say that separates you from other club programs, what would it be?
LA: I am not sure that anything separates us from other club programs and that, frankly, is our biggest problem. The Stunners organization does not have a national reputation as a club that develops quality talent. Our team has demonstrated that it can play with the better teams in our age group in the U.S. I have several players on this team that can really play. But, we don’t have a history of developing talent so it seems like many coaches are taking a “wait and see” approach to my players. Honestly, I think everything will work out fine, but my players and parents are very anxious about everything. They get nervous every time they see a 20162018 verbal commitment! All of the teams in our club can really play. Our 97 team is loaded with big hitters and several of those girls have committed to play at NAIA programs in Kentucky. Our 98 team was just overhauled and is loaded with talent. They finished in the final four of the Super Pools at Scenic 16 this fall. The 00 team had an exceptional fall, is stacked with athletes, and will make some real noise this summer at Nationals. Perhaps our most accomplished team is the 03 team. If this fall is any indicator, that group is among the most talented in their age group in the country.
FCS.com: Anything else interesting or fun about your team?
LA: One interesting fact about our team is that we train our hitters with the VFlex visual training system. I received my PhD in Neuroendocrinology and have been exposed to the science impacted by Vflex training. Its impact on our offensive production has been remarkable. Our team BA increased 44 points, our walkstostrikeout ratio increased such that we had 30% more walks than K’s. We had more hard hit balls. The biggest impact was our plate discipline. We rarely swung at balls; 87% of the time when one of our hitters received a ball we did NOT swing. I am not sure if we are the only travel squad using the V flex but I certainly believe in the principles of the Vflex and our hitters have had great success.