Dugout Dolls Named to 20 Best Places to Work in SWM

It’s a place “where champions are made.” Pretty solid basis for a company angling to be among the 20 Best Places to Work in Michigan’s Great Southwest. That place, in this case, happens to be called The Dollhouse, home of The Dugout Dolls, a championship training organization that works with women across the region to hone their skills not just in the world of sports, but throughout their life span. Working daily to educate, excel and empower, this small but powerful company in Niles has earned its way onto the Moody on the Market’s inaugural Top 20 Best Places to Work. Read on to see what this woman-owned and woman-empowered enterprise is all about.

What is the name of the business you are nominating?

Dugout Dolls

Who are the owner(s) and/or principals in this company?

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Trish Gardini & Amber Layman

Business Contact Information

Trish Gardini

71441 Kestrel drive

Niles, Mi 49120

How many people work at the company you are nominating?


Tell us the story behind the nominated company. What does it do, and what sets them apart from other companies in the region?

We believe that providing proper instruction and training is the key to developing and empowering athletes, and by doing so, the impact of our program reaches far beyond the field of competition. At the Dollhouse, we emphasize life skills including the importance of education, teamwork, commitment, and perseverance.

​It is our hope to provide lifelong character development and memories to our athletes, as well as advance the level of competition in our community

In your own words, why do you think this company deserves to be declared to be one of the 20 Best Places to Work in Michigan’s Great Southwest?

The Dollhouse is not just a place to learn about softball but rather a home where life skills are an integral part of the community education. We believe in empowering the young women of our community by supporting them mentally, physically, and spiritually. Coaches include area business men and woman, current and retired sheriff or county policeman, former collegiate athletes, college coaches, and more. We dedicate our time to reaching out to other community level programs, high school programs, and college programs to ensure proper youth skill progression is achieved and that our young women are empowered with self confidence, leadership skills, and more.

What makes workers proud to say they work there, and keeps them a part of the team?

At the foundation of Dugout Dolls lays the passion of empowerment. We pride ourselves on engaging with youth minds to excel them forward with confidence and leadership mentality, we just happen to use softball as a tool!

Let’s pretend you’re writing a review for Yelp! or Trip Advisor. Give us your best recommendation for the nominated company that would make the rest of us wish we worked there, too.

The Dollhouse is built on love and laughter (and lots of snacks!) It is here where champions are made. Through intense mentoring of youth athletes we provide the skills for both on and off the field to succeed. Diverse thought and the pursuit to build a community full of empowered and enlightened future women leaders drives our staff to continue developing curriculum that feeds the body and soul.

What three key words best describe why this company is a Best Places to Work caliber company?

  1. Educate…2. Empower…3. Excel

As a Best Places to Work company “Super Hero,” what are the two most magical “Super Powers” this company has on a day-to-day basis? (i.e., Ability to read minds, fly, invisibility, etc) And why?

Super Power One Ability to make children believe in themselves

Super Power Two Goal achievers

Tell us about the leadership of the nominated company and what they do to:

A] Keep spirits and motivation high? Impact statements- witnessing leadership development first hand

B] Keep innovation and fresh ideas advancing? Coaches education and networking

C] Keep communications open? Face to face engaging staff meetings, social media, and our website blog

Explain a specific “wow!” moment in this company’s history that is virtually “Hall of Fame” or “Best Practices” worthy, as an example to other companies in the region.

Our founder was recognized as one of Southwest Michigan’s 40 under 40 leaders and what started as a fun seasonal service has turned into a brick and mortar establishment that runs year round! We have athletes that travel from Detroit, Chicago, and even Indianapolis to train with the Dugout Dolls staff. We have helped numerous young ladies, parents, coaches, and teams develop into powerhouse programs through mentally tough and dynamite skill training. A majority of our gals go on to compete at the college level and our high school programs have achieved high success, even bringing home a state title! We have even been featured in Michiana Life magazine tabbed as game-changers in the community for the ground breaking work we do helping raise fierce lady warriors!

Best Places to Work have a reputation for not only working hard, but also for playing hard. How does the nominated company:

A] Honor or reward success? We don’t — that’s the greatest part! Our successes are measured in the individual successes of each and every gal we train. We are rewarded with smiles 🙂

B] Socialize as a team? Together we network and engage in order to bring the best leadership and skill training to the Dollhouse

C] Get involved in community events? For 6 years we have served as celebrity umpires for the Gateway softball marathon which raises money for Gateway in Benton Harbor. We integrate with area youth and high school programs to provide and enhance youth skill progression and leadership training.

D] Celebrate life? We love hard, we laugh hard, and we train hard!

Write a brief, but compelling, recruitment ad telling people about why they should come and work there, too.

The creation of Dugout Dolls has increased female athletic participation as well as created a place in SW Michigan where young women can not only become exemplary softball players but can grow into young women full of confidence, determination and tenacity. Do you have a passion for youth leadership and driving the next generation forward? Are you an expert in silly with experience in softball or baseball? Are you able to excel in an environment of hot pink and sparkles? Then we need you!  Our Dollhouse is a community hub to the hardest, grittiest, and most competitive young ladies around. We serve at their request- if you are up to the challenge give us a call and we’ll put you to the test!

What one thing is special about your nominated company that most people in the community have no idea actually happens there, but should be shouted from the rooftops because it’s that cool?

We raise women warriors from age 5 to 105. It’s that simple- we serve at their direction.

Give us three employee perks or benefits that you think make the company you have nominated worthy of a Best Places to Work trophy?

  1. Youth engagement…2. Leadership development…3. Servant leadership mentality

If this is your company and you win, write the best headline ever for your company newsletter describing your successful selection to the list, and be as specific as you can about how you would celebrate the win if money were no object.

Dugout Dolls Dominate

It is here where leaders are born and successes are defined through the eyes of children.

Tell us anything else you want about this company that you suddenly realize we haven’t asked you about, but you’re sure will be the thing that puts you squarely into the winner’s circle! (Wait a minute! Can you put a square in a circle?)

The mood in the Dollhouse is always electric. Parents, kids, staff, and spectators feed into the energy. We are family- competitors train together and leave as friends. We train with rivals, we break bread with our “enemies” from other teams, but share the dedication of work ethic as a family. It’s a unique environment where everyone has a hand in dollhouse upkeep, curriculum, and successes.