North Florida Storm Has now gone international!
We are now home to players from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Curacao, and the Bahamas! We are very thankful for all those involved and look forward to expand even more in the coming years!
The North Florida Storm was started in 1999 for simple reasons. First, was to give our young men a better chance to play the sport they love beyond High School. Second, if you play the ultimate team sports game the right way, you can make friends that could last a lifetime. I have seen too many teams with tremendous talent lose to teams with average talent because of what I like to call "ME Guys". The importance of being a great teammate can't be dismissed anymore. I am a believer that 17 players pulling the same way has much more strength than 17 guys pulling in their own direction.
Many say, "Well this is travel ball, who cares? Just put the players out there and let them play. The best will shine and move on." In my eyes that's the problem! My job is to get ALL of my platers in the BEST position to succeed at the next level, and to be prepared. We accomplish this on many levels. A Storm player must maintain a 3.0 GPA to play on our teams. There will be NO profanity by both coaches or players at ANY time. "Sir" is required at the end of an answer. Hustle and respect of both the game and other players is extremely important.
We have a 100% success rate of players that go through our program to move on to college or professional baseball. I put on free tryouts, because in my eyes, it's stealing money to charge. I personally go get my players, receive calls/emails, or visit with players and offer an invite to join the North Florida Storm team as well. To call us a team is almost disrespectful because we are more of a family. I would rather consider us an old school organization. If you could imagine a travel ball baseball team from 1978, we would be just that. We stress the importance of academics, family, and our Lord EVERY day, No, we do not shove any of this down our players' throat, but these are things that are important to me. We stay positive about ALL situations and yes, I am the "bad guy" in our family. We have a tremendous coaching staff that do a great job of instructing and teaching. There must be a disciplinarian, and that just so happens to be me. There is NO talking back, no walking on or off the field, no talking to mommy or daddy during practice or games, no bad body language, no missing signals, no looking at umpires, and NO negativity. Please understand that it is not my job to be friends with the parent or the player. My job is to get your child into college and have them prepared so they succeed, and by the way, we are pretty good at it!
Our goal isn't to win a single tournament, it is to get the players in front of the right people so that their success is on the radar of college scouts. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to have an impact on the molding of these young men, and I have always considered it an honor to earn the trust of the parents and players to play this role. We are blind to color, financial situations, and people your parents know. We want ball players, it's just that simple.
TEAM SPOTLIGHT: NORTH FLORIDA STORM
Written by Mike James on Friday, September 19, 2014
Name: North Florida Storm
Manager: Shelly Hall
Just about every club and travel team will tell parents their goal is to help their players prepare and move on to the next level, college baseball. For the North Florida Storm, however, it's not so much a goal as a promise. In the 15 years since its inception, the Storm has a 100 percent record of sending players to collegiate or professional baseball. One hundred percent. As in, all of them. Ever. How? "We play a major role in development of our young men," said Storm manager Shelly Hall. "All players have to maintain a 3.0 to play with us and profanity is not allowed by players or coaches.We have a family style environment with strict discipline."
It may sound like baseball boot camp, but no one can argue with its success. Over the course of the 13-15 events per year the team plays in, every player on the roster will get enough of a look to draw interest from someone, somewhere -- and that is why the coaches do what they do. Here are the numbers: more than 60 former players have gone to a Division I school, over 100 have played elsewhere in college, and more than 50 have played professionally.
The alumni list is impressive -- Howard Kendrick, Billy Butler, the Drew brothers (J.D., Tim and Stephen) and Desi Relaford are names most baseball fans know, while more recent collegians include D.J. Stewart and Sean Reid-Foley (Florida State), Tyler Deel and Dane Dunning (Florida), Thomas Belcher (Indiana) and Hunter Hanks (Lipscomb).
And the pipeline doesn't stop there. The Storm already have three players committed to schools for next fall -- Rhett Willis, Zack Miller and Luke Cooksey -- while the list of players drawing interest from schools includes Jeremy Peel, Jeremy Lhotka, Noah Leake and J.D. Makauskus.
The law of averages say that the Storm's 100 percent record of players moving on to continue their baseball careers has to end at some point. But given the track record and the way the organization is run, that point may not come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Perfect North Florida Storm
Posted by Ethan Pond on May 10, 2019
The Perfect North Florida Storm:
Shelly Hall Talks 20th Anniversary of ‘Family’ Baseball Organization
By: Ethan A. Pond
Every storm has many systems.
“The success of our organization is the atmosphere that we create with our players.”- Shelly Hall.
That sentiment expressed by the owner himself should stand out right away about Shelly Hall and his North Florida Storm organization, currently in its 20th year of operation. Hall expressed his fondness for his players, stating that while he might be the owner of the organization, it does not preclude him from being in contact with each of them. Very much unlike the prototypical team president, general manager or owner of most professional sports teams who prefer to stay aloof from their players, Hall is very much involved in the process of team building. The owner knows each of his players, and personally travelled to scout them for his program.
Last year, the Storm had 79 players sign scholarships to play college baseball, with 23 of them having the chance to play division I ball. Additionally, the Storm had three players taken in the 2018 MLB draft last year and two players who made their big league debut during the 2018 season. The Storm still have players in the bigs, back all the way from their very first team in 1999. “Howie Kendrick is still in the league,” The owner explained. “He was on that first team”.
The Storm stress academic development as much as anything that they value out on the diamond. “We want to give every kid the opportunity to keep that uniform on as long as we can,” Hall said. “Our motto is, use baseball to pay for your degree.” Every player that puts on a North Florida Storm uniform is made to understand right off the bat that they have to maintain a 3.0 GPA to stay on the team. “We take it seriously. We have, and do take on kids that are not at a 3.0, but by the next semester, they need to be building towards a 3.0.” The time and effort demanded by Hall goes both ways, however. Hall made it clear that the players are expected to bring the same level of commitment as the coaching staff, and that if they didn’t they risk being unable to play due to not taking their fair share of responsibilities. “If a kid has good grades and is already with us, then it’s worth the time and money,” Hall said. The owner said he cares about his players more than anybody, he respects them more than anybody, and as such, he demands more of them than anybody. “We absolutely love our players”.
The Storm is one of the most inexpensive teams in Florida and has grown to becoming one of the largest as well. The tuition for a student-athlete to participate in the program is exactly $1300. Hall has raised expenses only slightly, just $300 in over two decades of ownership of the North Florida Storm.
The Storm have also made a commitment towards realizing a diversity plan, this year alone bringing in 50-75 African-American players, and 10-15 international athletes. The five-star recruits among them move on and are eventually selected in the high rounds of draft. In order to further help control costs, Hall provides his players with sponsorship forms so that they can attain sponsorships to help cover the cost of the program, or gives the families of any player an opportunity to get cost cut off of the original price, by helping to recruit other players to the North Florida Storm. Players recruiting players helps instill a family atmosphere as well as the love and dedication that the coaching staff puts in on a daily basis, says Hall.
Each year, Hall and the North Florida Storm attend as many Prospect Select event they can. This summer you will find them at 5 different PS tournaments. “We play in every one of Prospect Select’s tournaments. All we want is exposure. We don’t care about winning tournaments. We care about getting guys signed. It’s the perfect avenue for our guys to get noticed and have fun playing their game… Every (Prospect Select) event is great. Everyone that works for them is just amazing and professional.”
Hall states that the North Florida Storm is a different type of organization because to him it truly is a family, from ownership on down. “Our players get in their vehicles after their games to go find some of of other kids playing so they can support them…It’s just special. You don’t see that. You’ll never see one or two kids leaving to go to the movies, you’ll see thirty or forty. Myself and the coaches, we spend every down minute we have in the lobby just talking baseball with the kids. Communication is huge for us.”
As Hall summed up his franchise in one elegant sentence, “We don’t always have the best teams, but we have the best team.”