I asked for players to send in their favorite picture with their favorite quotes to go along with it! I got pictures in from all across the country, and here are the 5 winners I picked!
I asked for players to send in their favorite picture with their favorite quotes to go along with it! I got pictures in from all across the country, and here are the 5 winners I picked!
One of the things every coach is looking for at any level are coachable players. Coachble means a willingness / openness to try new things and to learn new things. In order to be coachable…..
1) Show Humility – Have a sense of humbleness; a modest view of one’s own importance. You can always get better. There is always something to be learned. There are always people out there better than you. You can learn from anyone.
2) Have Faith in Others – Trust others. Everyone has had experiences. Be open to learning different points of views and seeing the best that others bring to the table. You must trust yourself first before you can trust others.
3) Be Approachable – Have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you are having fun, you are inviting other people to have fun with you, teach you and learn with you. The more people who want to give you information the better! Now you have all this information, you get to try it and sort through what works and what does not work! Invite people in to help you, don’t push them away.
4) Look Attentive – Look at someone in the eyes when they are talking to you. No matter who is talking, looking at someone in the eyes is a sign of respect. Your coaches, your teammates, family and your friends deserve this attentiveness from you. When you are attentive, your brain is soaking more things in!
5) Be Curious – When given feedback, ask questions. It shows that you’re more interested in digging deeper into what someone is trying to help you with. A lot of times people aren’t coachable because they are afraid to try new things and are scared of not understanding what is being asked of them. To fully understand, take a pause after someone tells you something, take a moment to understand and process, and THEN make a decision of whether you do or do not fully understand. If you do not fully understand, organize a question to dig deeper more into a better understanding. Ask questions!
At all times – listen with intent to learn. All of these fall under the umbrella and goes without saying, to have a good, positive attitude. The more coachable you are, the more enjoyable you are to be around as a teammate and as a player under a coach.
Understand if you are or are not coachable. If you are getting feedback from others that you are not coachable, be willing to change. If you are getting this feedback numerous times, quit blaming that it is other people, and understand that it is you not them. Accept it, commit to making a change and DO IT. There is always time to change and make a difference in your own life. You can do it! Have faith in yourself and have courage that you can become the best player you possibly can be!! It all starts with being coachable!!
Okay y’all! I want to see you and hear from you! From NOW until Friday, March 14 at 11:59pm CT I want you to send in playing pictures (pitching, hitting, teamwork, teammates, fielding, etc) WITH a your favorite QUOTE that goes with the picture! Be creative!
— Quotes and pictures can be about ANYTHING – happiness, passion, working hard, dream, determination, focus, fun, beauty, energy, role model, etc. Think of something that motivates you or you believe in. Whatever you think the word could be, it’s totally ok! It’s all about YOU.
— One picture per email please WITH the quote in the body of email. Also, full name, age and team! (You can send however many emails you’d like!)
— Email picture and quote to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject of the picture you are sending in. Ex. “Happiness” Ex. “Passion”
— There will be at LEAST 5 winners that will receive a signed (optional) Amanda Scarborough t shirt. The winner may also find your picture in an EBOOK to be written this year by me!
— **By sending me your picture, you are giving permission to be my social media or my website. If you are not okay with picture going public, please specify in the email!**
SHARE this with your teammates, friends, family, whoever!!
My picture here is an example of the quote about a picture to send in like I am talking about.
“Do it with passion or not at all.”
When you love the game, you’ll do ANYTHING to be able to play.
My freshman year, I had an injury at the end of the season. On May 9, the day before our team was to leave to go drive to Big 12 Tournament, I got hit in the head with a line drive at practice. I was playing first base (when I didn’t pitch, I always played 1B). At practice, our pitchers would always throw live to our hitters to give them at bats. But like I said, I wasn’t pitching, I was playing in the field and a left handed hitter was up to bat with a runner at 1B. Because it was a bunt situation, I was expecting bunt, but instead, I had a line drive hit at me from an upperclassman who pulled the ball down the line. This ball was crushed. I had no time to react and get my glove up to protect myself. It didn’t hit any part of my glove, it hit me on the side of my head.
They allowed me to go back to the dorm room for the night, but when me and my fellow freshmen classmates were at the dorm room, I couldn’t eat anything without throwing it up, not even tylenol would stay down, which is the sign of a concussion. That night, I went to the Emergency Room..and from there it’s all a little blurry of what happened when. Somewhere along the way I got a CT Scan where they found that my brain was bleeding a little where I got hit, and I had a small fracture in my skull. I stayed in the hospital over night, and the next day, May 10, the team left to go to Oklahoma City without me. I was so bummed, I wanted to go so bad. The Big 12 Tournament signified the official started of the post season in our minds. On top of that, the Big 12 Tournament was played at Hall of Fame Stadium, where the WCWS is played.
May 10 is also my birthday. Double bummer to be stuck in a hospital. When the team got to Oklahoma City, they didn’t start games the first day, they attended the Big 12 Banquet. A banquet where all of the teams attend, and they announce the Big 12 Awards (Player of the Year, First Team, Second Team, Academic Awards, etc). On that day, after the banquet, I remember laying in the hospital bed, and I got a call from Coach Evans. She wanted to let me know that at the Big 12 Banquet I had been named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year. I was the only person in Big 12 history to achieve this.
After about a day, they were able to release me from the hospital because I was actually able to keep food down. I went home with my parents while my team was in Oklahoma City, as no one really wanted me to do anything. I didn’t understand. Yes my brain was bleeding, but all I wanted to do was be with my teammates at the field! Why couldn’t I go? I remember being at my parent’s house in Magnolia and listening to my teammates on the radio broadcast in our computer room play Oklahoma State (I think it was). It was SO WEIRD to listen to them on the radio without me being there. BUT…I talked my parents into driving me to Oklahoma City if we won that game. Well…..we won! So guess what…we drove to Oklahoma City!!!
I remember being so happy to get to be with the team. Our semi final game against Baylor was on Fox Sports, and since I couldn’t play, they invited me into the broadcast booth for a half inning. Maybe you could call this my big break into TV?! We ended up losing that game and I drove home with my parents while my teammates rode home on the bus to start practicing for the post season, as NCAA Regionals would be that next week.
We hosted Regionals in College Station, as that year we were at Top 8 National Seed. I did not get to play…apparently this whole brain bleeding and fractured skull thing was a big deal. Who knew!! We won that Regional, and the next week we were to face Alabama in Super Regionals, hosting them in College Station.
The week going into Super Regionals, it had been about 2 weeks since I had gotten hit, and the doctors, trainers and my parents said I could play in Super Regionals BUT I would have to wear a mask when I hit, and if I pitched, I would have to pitch withs something protecting my head. Me, Jamie Hinshaw, Jami Lobpries and our trainer, Leah, made a trip to Academy to figure out something I could put over my head. We tried soccer headgear, wrestling headgear, and none of it was satisfactory. I couldn’t pitch if we didn’t figure something out. So…..we decided I would have to pitch with a batting helmet on if I wanted to play. In order to get a little breeze, they cut a whole in the back of the helmet where my hair bun could go through, and a little air could circulate through.
I practiced 1 or 2 days before Super Regionals started, and Coach Evans wanted me to throw to some hitters with the helmet on to see if I could do it and how it felt– a trial run for what was to come in the actual game. The first hitter I pitched to was Jamie Hinshaw, a fellow freshman teammate, left handed hitter. She came up and in her first at bat against me at practice, ironically, I hit her in the head! We laughed about it and one of the local reporters was there, and he ended up writing about it. Good times.
Super Regionals started as Pat Murphy and Alabama came in to College Station. We lost the 1st game of the Super regional, I pitched the second game of the series the following day. It was May in Texas and it was SO HOT. In between innings for my warm up pitches, I wouldn’t pitch with the helmet on, I would leave it off in the circle, and then I would put it on when it came game time. Yes, it was a little embarrassing, but I just wanted to play, and I would have done anything to play because I loved it. I’ve never seen anyone do this before…maybe no one has had to. But we had to be creative, even if it meant pitching with a BATTING HELMET on my head against University of Alabama.
We ended up losing that Super Regional, falling short of the Women’s College World Series. We were seeded higher than Alabama, and had SUCH a good team. We had won the Big 12 Conference that year, and had such high hopes of this team in 2005 making it to Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, in the last conference series of the year, our amazing center fielder and lead off hitter, Sharonda McDonald had tore her ACL sliding into home when we were in Columbia playing Missouri. And then a week later, I got hurt. These were 2 major blows to a team, terrible timing for injuries, especially to 2 starters.
What I did my freshman year to pitch with a helmet on, I would do again. I didn’t know any better. If there was a way that I could play, I would figure it out. If you love the game, you’ll do ANYTHING to be able to compete at the sport you love.
Savana Lloyd, from SL Fastpitch, hit a hot topic, covering how often a pitcher should practice. As pitching coaches, we CONSTANTLY get asked this question. It’s everyone’s favorite! There is no concrete answer…but Savana describes how YOU (as a pitcher and as a parent) can come up with your own, customized answer for pitching practice time. Here below is a preview of the blog, to go ahead and skip to the full blog, click here
“One of the most popular questions a pitching coach gets is, “how often should I practice and how many pitches should I throw?” The reason this is the most asked question is because there is no simple or magic answer. One thing that always comes to my mind when I get asked this is not only how often are you practicing, but what are you practicing. I am going to do my best to help answer this question in a way that YOU can determine your answer!
First, lets outline some of the questions you need to ask yourself…
Practice is about excellence, educating yourself, being smart, and having a clear plan. To start, let’s determine your needs:
Becoming great at anything takes repetition, therefore pitchers who practice more often seem to have the most success. I notice pitchers who practice consistently for shorter amounts of time (5 days a week, 30-60 minutes) make adjustments faster than pitchers who go out for long workouts less often (2 days a week for 1-2+ hours).
With that said, practice too often can have a mindless approach: simply repeating drills and throwing pitches without thinking or having a specific focus will not help you. Your time is precious and it needs to be directed, not just random. What exactly is it that you need to work on; throwing strikes? your reaction when you throw a ball? your footwork? The older you get the more specialized these questions become, but you always need to ask them.
To finish reading this blog, go to How Often You Should Practice by SL Faspitch.
As you grow up and reflect on the years of your life, you can probably count on 1 hand the people who have made a major impact on you. You are told to surround yourself by people who make you better; a search to seek out the people who pull out the very best in you. But what if one of those people actually found YOU, knowing she could be the one to get the very best out of you? And then, what if you were surrounded by that person for 4 years, 40 weeks out of the year, 6 days out of the week, 4-5 hours of every day? Do you think this person would have a major influence on you in your life? I know firsthand, the answer is yes. I know from having the opportunity to be around Jo Evans, Head Softball Coach at Texas A&M, who just recently won the 1000th game of her career.
When deciding where to play ball in college, some players look at what majors a school has to offer, some decide based on athletic and academic facilities, others may look at a previous win-loss records or national championships. I looked at Coach Evans.
I saw a coach who could make me a better player, but more importantly, I saw a coach who could make me a better person.
I still remember being 15 or 16 years old, and seeing Coach Evans in the stands recruiting me and watching me play. I get asked often if I always knew I wanted to go to Texas A&M. To be honest, I wasn’t one of those players who ALWAYS knew she wanted to go to Texas A&M. I have no family members who went there and had no real ties to the university before I made my decision. When I was that age, I had no idea where I wanted to go to school! But then…Texas A&M showed interest in me, and it was almost as if I knew instantly that I wanted to play for her from the moment I met her. Jo Evans is what pulled me in.
The decision to play at Texas A&M for Jo Evans is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. When I was there, taking the field every day in College Station, I didn’t realize the magnitude of all that she was teaching me on a daily basis. In those 4 years, I was constantly growing as a player, growing as a leader, and helping to grow a program, all by the guidance of a spunky red head, named Jo.
Coach Evans makes a “big deal” about leaving a legacy, as she asks every senior class, “What’s going to be your legacy?” She reminded our senior class, as she does with every senior class, that we are leaving a lasting mark on a program, and we got the chance to control what it was going to be. From her, we knew we would be leaving a legacy at Texas A&M, but what she did not know at the time, was that she, too, was leaving a lasting legacy on us. A first impression may stay with you for weeks, a lifetime impression stays with you for eternity; it’s one that will stays with me well after I left my cleats on the field in Oklahoma City signaling my playing career at Texas A&M had come to an end. Coach Evans makes lifetime impressions on the players who play for her at Texas A&M University.
Little did I know when I was 16 years old, making the decision to play for Coach Jo Evans, that I would be playing for a coach would achieve the 1000 wins mark. That coach, the one who chose ME to come and play for her at her school, had a monumental weekend, as she won her 1000th career Division 1 game this past Saturday. Quite a milestone, as she becomes the only active coach in the SEC to have 1000 career Division 1 wins and becomes the 8th coach in the country to achieve this.
But in my mind, Jo Evans is more than a softball coach piling up scoreboard victories under her belt.
What has helped lead to those thousand victories is the fact she is a coach who teaches more than the game of softball through the game of softball. She genuinely cares about her players, and has the ability to get them each in the right mindset to go out and compete to their highest talent level, thus the ability to compete for championships. By caring, by teaching, by directing, she is making them better women when they leave her program to go and take on the real world, once their cleats are left on home plate.
It’s a college coach’s duty to teach more than the game of softball, as those 4-5 years of a player’s life are preparing them for the rest of their lives in more ways than one. I know in my heart that many other players feel like I do about the relationship they have or had with their college coach. I speak from my heart and from my own experience as to what I was taught in those 4 years that has honestly, completely changed my life and made me into the woman I am today.
I could write an entire book about what all Coach Evans has taught me. (I laugh because this article is already going to be long enough.) Looking back, I honestly cannot tell you which of these things are the most important and rank them in any particular order, but I do know that they all continue to change my life. Jo Evans left her legacy on us, just like she told our senior class to do on the A&M program.
I really learned the ins and outs of the game from Jo. At practice she’s teaching, in the game she is teaching, after the game she is teaching. Doesn’t matter big or small, she will see it, and she will use it as a teaching moment at many point at practice or in a game. At practice, I learned the details of defense from her. In between innings, during a game, I remember her going over pitch calling with me for different situations and letting me know what I could have done better or chose differently. I learned a little bit deeper about what the whole “make adjustments” thing meant as a hitter and as a pitcher, alike.
In post game talks, she would let us know down to certain at bats and certain pitches/counts within that at bat what went wrong, what should have gone differently, and why it changed the energy and outcome of the game or an inning. Because she taught us, we could be more aware of different situations in future games to be able to make adjustments on our own when we experienced that same situation again. She was the best at reminding us of plays of execution throughout the game, that may never go down in the scorebook or get written about in the newspaper, but they were parts of the game that you can’t be a championship team without. During and after the game, she reminded us which plays were a “big deal” for our team.
A huge part of this game is knowing your role on a team. She made me look at the game in a whole new way when it came down to actually playing the game itself, but also, she taught me every player has a “job.” She pointed out different roles that were an integral part of a team; roles that went deeper than the star pitcher and the homerun hitter. Every single player on a roster has value and has a job to do. When you are being reminded that everyone has a role and a job to do at any point in the game, it brings a team together. EVERY player has value.
The more you respect each other’s roles, the better you play together, thus leading to more wins. You keep it simple and worry about doing YOUR job, not someone else’s.
This idea of roles and doing your own job made the game much more simplified. It was important to remember what YOUR job was, and not try to do everybody else’s. You have a job. You execute it. You succeed. “What can YOU do to help OUR team win?” — love that quote.
Looking back, her teaching me the knowledge of the ins and outs of the game has helped me immensely in my career as a softball analyst on ESPN. We did not learn to play as robots on the field – we learned to take responsibility and ownership for every situation throughout the game. Because I wasn’t a robot, I learned quicker and the concepts I learned were able to stay with me longer. Now, I can talk about an array of situations that happen on the field defensively and offensively, taking that knowledge I learned playing under her to relaying knowledge to the viewer on TV listening and watching the game. I know the game from Jo.
2. Respecting the game
Coach Evans takes more of an “old school” approach. She loves textbook softball when it comes down to execution and more importantly, upholding a certain standard to which the game should be played and respected on the field.
Our game has history and our game has value, and she is a coach that doesn’t just ask for her players to respect that history, she demands it. Respecting the game is one of the few things Coach Evans demanded of us, as she is really not a demanding coach. For the few things that she “demanded,” we knew that they were of extra importance, because her demanding anything from us, were things we knew WE could control.
Along with respecting the game, comes respecting the players who played in front of you. Not just at YOUR school, but the players who paved the way to get our sport to where it is today. This is a respect of what they sacrificed, and what they have accomplished ahead of you. Our sport is growing, and our sport is beautiful. This didn’t happen over night. It was made this way from those who laid the foundation before us to make this sport as we know it today. And for that, every time you take the field, you are playing for something that’s bigger than yourself.
What else does respecting the game mean? It means you play hard. It means you leave it all out on the field. It means that when you step out onto the field, nothing else matters – not school, not relationships, not any personal problems. It means keeping a good attitude. It means by knowing that if you stick with the process, the game will reward you. If you are player or former player, you know exactly what I mean.
I had never really thought about the game in this way until I had played for Coach Evans. Yes, I loved to play hard, but I did it a little selfishly, not understanding the real importance of respecting the game. However, she taught me to play hard, for something bigger than myself. Because she loves and respects the game of softball, it’s something that she has pulled out from inside of me to the forefront. Not that it wasn’t always there, because it was, but she showed it to me in a way I had never thought about the game before. If you know me, you know I love EVERYTHING about this game. Coach Evans brought that out of me.
3. Respect Your Opponent
With respecting the game comes respecting your opponent. Jo kept us humble with wearing that Texas A&M across our chest. Yes, we played at a school who week in and week out, usually found ourselves ranked in the Top 25; but she taught us the game doesn’t know who is supposed to win when you step on the field. She taught us that no matter who we were going up against, they deserved our upmost respect, because anybody can beat anybody on any given day. The more I’m around this game, the more I see this, and it’s actually one of the things that still gives me the most excitement about spots in general. As sports fans, we live for the underdog to get the big win. It happens, and it gives everyone out there a little bit of extra hope, as we all feel like an underdog at some point in our lives.
She taught us that even though we respected our opponent, no matter who they may be, a win and a loss 90% of the time comes down to a team playing THEIR game and not worrying about what the other team was doing. She taught us to give so much more attention to ourselves than to the other team, and control the things that WE could control. This is something that as we were playing, made the game seem a little bit more simple. Wow, what a thought – I don’t have to worry too much about the other team, because if we play OUR game, the way WE are supposed to play, then we will put ourselves in a position to win.
Coach taught us a part of respecting your opponent is winning and losing graciously. Any kind of attitude towards another team or disrespect of the game was not allowed. To be honest, we never even really came across anything like this during a game, because we were so engrained to respect our opponent, that it never was really an issue. Respecting your opponent means playing with class and playing within yourself. Jo reminded us of this.
4. Ownership Of OUR Team/ OUR Actions
At the very beginning of the season, Coach Evans will remind a team, “This is YOUR team.” The players are supposed to run the team, with the help of the coaches – it’s not the other way around. This gave us accountability for all of our actions. We monitored and patrolled each other for everything – whether it was about tucking in our shirts at practice, making in game at-bat adjustments or making the right social decision outside of the field. It’s kind of like when your parents buy you a car versus when you buy a car yourself. When you buy the car yourself, then the responsibility and accountability seems to go WAY up. It’s YOUR investment and it’s YOUR car. Every decision you make from that point on has more weight on it.
With ownership of your own team, came ownership of our own pitch calling. As a pitcher, I loved being able to call my own game. It made me LEARN. It made me a better player, and it made me a better coach after college was done. I loved challenging myself and having to think constantly throughout the game. In a way, it gave me independence and confidence in my own decision making. Think about it – I threw 100+ pitches in a completely game, which meant I was making 100+ decisions every time I was in the circle. I don’t know if this was supposed to be a direct bi-product of pitchers/catchers calling their own game, and I’ve never really thought about it this way before, but I think it’s pretty awesome, and it gave me accountability and confidence with my own decision making.
When the players take ownership of THEIR team, it’s astounding how much more accountability and investment it creates. You no longer want to just worry about yourself and YOUR actions, you worry about the TEAM more than you worry about yourself. The team comes first. Because of this, the team starts thinking big picture, monitors each other, and really, the team should pretty much be able to run itself. I can still hear her saying in our team meetings, “This is YOUR team,” and it was true. When we ran OUR team, it gave us more ownership of every win and every loss.
Jo Evans loves to compete. She HATES to lose. “Compete” was a word that we heard daily at practices and in games. The idea of not competing is just like not respecting the game. It’s a long season of over 50 games and Coach expected us to compete for all of them. She wanted us to go out and compete to represent the name on the front of our jerseys.
We had a duty to wear that jersey proudly with Texas A&M represented on the front, and we knew we were representing the 12th man and our incredible university. By not competing, we weren’t just letting our team down, we were letting the 12th man down.
Part of competing is that never give up mentality. To compete and to fight go hand in hand. Not every game is going to be an easy win. There are going to be times you fall behind and need to come back. When you have a coach with the experience and drive that Coach Evans has, she teaches to her team that there is always a chance to win if there are outs left in a game. If she thought that and believed it, then why wouldn’t we, as players, believe it, too?
I remember being a freshman and losing games for the first time early in the season. Some of the losses, we were just beat. Other losses we beat ourselves. But, a loss was a loss. A loss was to be taken seriously with no laughing and cutting up after the game. Our freshman class learned this very fast from our seniors (remember, we patrolled each other). A loss in college was taken much differently than in high school or tournament ball. I learned to hate the way it felt after a loss. As a team, we hated disappointing ourselves, but more than that, we hated disappointing Coach Evans. We hated the way losing made us feel, and we didn’t want to have to feel that feeling very often. We learned from our losses, and were able to move on, but losing was never fun.
Because she was so competitive, our team was competitive. Because she had fight, our team had fight.
Individually, we were expected to compete, and as a team we were expected to fight until the very end. It wasn’t a demand, it was an expectation. It is because of her I am more competitive and have more fight in me than when I entered her program. If you want to win, you’ve got to learn to compete and learn how to fight until the very end, because you never know when the game can change if there are any outs left…
I sincerely believe that Coach Evans taught me the true meaning of what it is to be loyal. She constantly talked to us about loyalty throughout my 4 years. Loyalty means allegiance and trust. When you build a loyal team, you build a team that is going to trust each other and play better together on the field. She encouraged us to be loyal to the program and to our teammates. If we were supposed to take ownership of OUR team, then a big part of that is feeling loyalty from and towards our teammates.
It feels good as a player to be surrounded by loyal teammates. It’s a long season. Not everything is going to go your way. There are going to be team talks, team meetings, and adversity. There are going to be things that are said in a team meeting that need to stay within a team. A loyal team keeps those issues within the team. It is so important to be a loyal teammate. Loyalty establishes faith and belief, and helps with team cohesiveness. Loyalty forms a team who plays for each other8
A team has to feel united at the end of the season to win games and win championships.
When you are a loyal teammate for 4 years, it becomes a habit in your every day life outside of softball. Because Coach Evans taught me the true meaning of loyalty, I bring that quality into my relationships with my friends and family. I hope that they call me a loyal friend – that might be one of the biggest compliments someone can give me. So much of being a good teammate and a good friend comes down to being loyal and trustworthy. If you have teammates who represent those things, then your team chemistry is going to help you get more W’s than otherwise, as Coach Evans taught us throughout the years.
As I saw in Coach Evans, motivation stems from passion. Coach Evans has the ability to speak in a room and motivate everyone who is listening – from the trainers to the managers to the players. Even now, in the rare cases where I get a chance to hear her speak to the team in a pre game/post game talk, it’s moving. It makes me want to go play. It doesn’t just make me want to go play, it makes me want to be great.
She can move you and change your mindset with the passion in her each of her words. Even when it can seem like there is nothing positive to build on after a bad game, she can find it. She can turn a room of emotions from defeat to compete within a few minutes of listening to her speak. She is an extraordinary speaker, because she speaks right from her heart. You can tell it comes from deep within a place built by experience and a place of confidence. It’s hard to NOT be motivated before a game when Jo Evans is your heard coach. It’s that motivation that gets her players ready to play before any given game.
8. She “Gets” Her Players
Coach Evans genuinely cares about her players on and off the build. She takes the time to get to know each player, and figure out a way to coach and communicate with them. Because of the way she forms relationships with her players, a sense of family is built within the program, firmly assembled on the foundation of respect. She can tell her players the hard thing. She is a coach who will always be honest with her players. It might not be always what you want to hear, but she can say the hard thing. She KNOWS her players. She even knows qualities about her players that the player might not have figured out about herself, yet. Sometimes, it takes a few years to understand and appreciate some of the things she brings to your attention in those meetings. It’s hard to hear the truth, and it can be hard to learn about yourself and understand how you are being perceived from the outside. This was “grown up stuff” we were learning to deal with throughout our tenure at A&M. However, in the end, no matter what, Coach Evans told us that she had our backs – each and every one of us – and she meant it. Because we knew she had our back, we had hers.
Coach Evans exuded these noteworthy qualities on a daily basis. We wanted to play and fight for her and for our school. She exemplified what it looked like to model all of the qualities that she was teaching us through her own actions. Because we saw it every day, eventually it just became a part of us. You want it to become a part of you. In some of our most impressionable years, ages 18-22, we were around a woman who was constantly teaching us how to be a good teammate, but an even better person.
For me, playing for Jo Evans at Texas A&M is like the gift that keeps on giving. The life lessons I have learned from her through the game of softball are amazing. I learned a way to play and understand the game, but more importantly I learned ways to improve myself that I could carry on into the real world. When you dig deep to understand why she is a coach who now has 1000 wins, it’s not too hard to figure out how win after win has accumulated over the years. You can tell she has passion, she surrounds herself with a trustworthy coaching staff who exemplify the same qualities that she is trying to teach and she has the ability to reach the players who are in her program to a deeper level. It’s the coaches who have surrounded her and who currently surround her, who cannot be forgotten about as well. Without the help of an incredible support staff, not as many games and championships can be won, trying to steer a program in the right direction.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter how much softball you know and how much strategy of the game you know, if you can’t get your players to play for you, play for each other and play for themselves, then that knowledge is meaningless. I look back to 12 years ago, and I am incredibly thankful she picked ME, Jo Evans picked ME, to play for her at Texas A&M. I cant imagine having played for anybody else, and I would not be the woman I am today without her.
A BIG congratulations to Coach Evans! Her 1000 wins mile marker is a “big deal!!”
Went to Palm Springs for the Mary Nutter Softball Classic at the Big League Dreams Park. What an amazing weekend of watching high level softball, getting to listen in on interviews from many of the top teams’ coaches and players, and then an awesome video shoot with a camera called the Phantom that shoots at 3200 frames per second. (In comparison, this video was shot at 1000 frames per second). By the way — the views you will see in these pictures are stunning. AWESOME weather with sunny skies and beautiful backdrops! The teams that were there at the tournament included Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nebraska, Texas, Stanford, Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Cal St Fullerton, UCLA, Cal, LSU, Pacific, Cal State Northridge, Oregon State, UNLV, Missouri, amongst others! To see all of the results of the many, many great match ups from this weekend, click here.
What I learned: I love this game more than anything, this weekend was definitely a reinforcement for that. But what I also learned, is that the talent at the D1 level is spread out amongst all conferences. In the past, there were just a few schools who would “take the cake” year in and year out. What’s so fun about going out to a game now, is that you really don’t know who is going to win simply by looking at the names on the uniforms.
Who I enjoyed watching: I really enjoyed being able to see Ellen Renfroe pitch in real life. She is someone who doesn’t really throw above 60mph, but her spin is amazing. She is a true pitcher. She is not going to blow the ball by you, she is going to be crafty in her locations and precise in her spots by mixing up her pitches in different quadrants. I highly recommend being able to go and watch this senior pitch in real life or on TV to see a real pitcher and not just a thrower. She is living proof that you do NOT have to throw hard to have success at the collegiate level. (If you remember, she helped pitch Tennessee to the National Championship game last year in Oklahoma City to go up against Oklahoma).
Offensively, I enjoyed watching Stanford third baseman Hanna Winter. She plays third base and she hits left handed. If you want to see someone who might be one of the quickest, most athletic players in the country, she’s your girl. I saw her make some amazing plays at 3B, and the way she runs bases and has such great bat control front the left handed side of the plate is just awesome.
Throughout Friday and Saturday, teams were stopping by to take go through different stations, taking pictures, getting video footage and also interviewing with Holly Rowe and Jessica Mendoza. I tagged along for some! They interviewed over 12 teams this weekend, and next weekend they will go out to another big tournament in Orlando, to get some of the top teams there, too. I got to hear about so many different team’s cultures and head coaches talking about individual players who make a difference on their team. There were tons of good stories from the head coaches and the players, many of them you will be able to catch on ESPN’s coverage of the regular season and post season, which will start at the end of March.
Saturday morning, the ESPN crew met up at the field to use an incredible camera that shoots at thousands of frames per second — 3200 frames per second to be exact. Kristyn Sandberg, who played at Georgia and currently plays for USSSA Pride, caught and hit, I pitched, and Jessica Mendoza also came to hit, too. This camera was so awesome – the detail it catches of every little thing is so amazing. They zoomed in on my release from a side angle, my drag from a side angle and then they filmed from back behind Kristen catching me to get the ball coming out of my hand, too. They also shot some catching, fielding and hitting clips all done by myself, Kristyn Sandberg and Jessica Mendoza. These will be used for different shots throughout the coverage of college softball. You most likely won’t be able to see or tell that they are me or Kristyn, because they were more about cool shots like the look of a ball coming out of a pitcher’s hand at release, the look of a pitcher’s feet dragging, the ball coming off the bat, a tag being made at 3B. WE will know that the shots were of us, but not very many people will probably be able to tell!
One of the biggest questions in our game today is, “What are college coaches looking for in recruiting an athlete?” There’s not just ONE thing that coaches are looking for. In my mind, there are multiple things that add up to being a recruitable player. Some are tangible, some are intangible. What separates you from the thousands of other girls out there who are trying to be recruited who can hit, pitch and field a ground ball?
This question can be answered go into a very position specific answer with a coach once they identify a player (ie what a coach is looking for when recruiting a pitcher, what a coach looks for when looking at a swing), but there are definitely some factors across the board that all coaches are looking for to find a player who is going to come in and be able to make an impact on their program.
It’s great to be able to show versatility — a player who can play multiple positions, especially if you are not a pitcher, catcher or short stop. Pitcher, catcher, and short stop are those few positions out on the field where a coach is okay with finding a player that excels at JUST that position. If you are a standout pitcher or catcher, it’s an added bonus if you can swing the bat and produce at the plate, as well. However, college coaches are less likely to mind recruiting a pitcher who JUST pitches (pitchers really ARE special 🙂 ) and does not play any other position, and the same goes for a catcher. An awesome defensive short stop is a specialized position, as well.
Coaches will bend over backward to find the dime-a-dozen pitchers, a catcher who can throw out a girl stealing who can run a 2.6 and a short stop who can save runs and command an infield.
To have an impactful pitcher, catcher and/or short stop are game-changing positions. If you have a pitcher who can shut teams down, you don’t really care if she can hit the broad side of a barn. IF she can hit AND pitch, more power to her — then that player is probably one of the most highly recruited players, because coaches get more “bang for their buck” in getting a pitcher and a hitter in one player.
Also, if you are an awesome short stop, that means that you are most likely pretty athletic, as the short stop is usually labeled as the most athletic kid on the field. If you play short stop well, a coach sees you as an athlete that he/she might be able to convert to a different position with ease. Remember that once you get to college, every athlete on the team is solid, and there are only 9 positions on the field. So the more versatile you can be, and have the ability to play multiple positions, the higher your chance is of getting recruited……And then, once you are there, being able to get playing time. When I played at A&M, there were 5-6 players on our team who had played short stop in high school or for their travel team. 4-5 of those players ended up playing other positions than short once they got to college.
Please understand that I am not saying you have to be a pitcher, catcher or short stop to stand out. But being completely honest, those are probably the 3 positions most looked at when a coach walks up to the field empty -minded and with no agenda as to which position they are looking at.
After looking at those positions, coaches are looking to see which ATHLETES stand out from both dugouts. Coaches think that they can build off of pure athletes — turn them into any position if they are athletic enough. Because athletic player have more body awareness, then it is easier to transform them and find a spot for them on the field. If you have athleticism, show it off. I think of an athletic player as someone who is strong, agile, quick, can jump, and is flexible. You can have some of these qualities, or you can have all of them. The more you have, the better of an athlete you are.
Players who play multiple sports have higher chances of overall being more athletic because different sports develop different muscles and different athletic qualities.
Think of the jumping skills that come with playing volleyball. That jumping makes you more explosive with your bottom half, and also works on fast twitch muscles, as volleyball moves so fast and is a reaction sport. Think of the endurance that comes with playing basketball or track.
Your body can develop to become an amazing athlete by playing different sports. Many college coaches LOVE multiple sport athletes because of the athleticism that it breeds. However, at the same time, there are coaches that are impartial to multiple sport athletes. I played for a coach who likes multi-sport athletes, so I am more partial to encourage players to play multiple sports IF, and I mean IF, they can get in quality time towards their main sport and continue to show progression in the right direction. If they are staying the same or digressing in their main sport, that is when I feel it is time to cut back on playing multiple sports. My theory: play multiple sports for as long as you can. (Some talented athletes can even pull this off for the entirety of their high school careers).
The more athletic and versatile you are, the higher of a chance you have at being noticed and recruited, and then once you actually make a college team, the higher chance you have at finding playing time. Work hard to get stronger. Work hard to get faster. Work hard to develop athletic skills that do not just involve hitting or throwing or pitching a ball.
Coaches are ALWAYS looking for solid offensive players. It doesn’t mean you have to hit tons of homeruns and it doesn’t mean you have to hit tons of doubles. Understand exactly what YOUR offensive game is so you can focus on it and capitalize on it. If you do have power, that’s awesome, but there are other offensive ways to catch attention, as well. I would say in 90-95% of colleges, if you are one of the top offensive producers on the team, a coach will find a spot for you in the lineup and figure out a way to put you somewhere defensively.
The Big Power Hitter
Can you crush the ball? You’ll catch coaches’ attention. In college, coaches are looking for the top 9 offensive producers to fill into their lineup. If you are one of the top hitters and have a willingness and ability to show that you can play a position you’ve never played before, you can find yourself in a lineup. Be sure you are a hitter who consistently shows that power and show that you’re not a “lucky” hitter. When college coaches are there watching you, you string together quality at bats, where you have a good approach and are hitting the ball hard more often than not. Take advantage of big RBI opportunities. If you are known you’re your power hitting at the plate, then it is your job on your high school team, on your travel team, and it will be your job when you get to college to come through with the big, RBI hits. A college coach wants a power hitter that thrives in clutch RBI opportunities. A big power hitter looks at bases loaded with 2 outs as an OPPORTUNITY, not as a fear. If you struggle in these RBI situations in tournaments or in high school, why would a college coach think you are going to be any different once you make it to the next level?
Do you have speed? Use it — consistently. Speed kills in our sport. Our sport is based around speed. But it does no good to have that speed, be a lefty slapper, and not consistently be able to put the ball on the ground.
If speed is your game, show that you are player who consistently gets on base – some way, some how. That’s your job.
Have a great short game. Remember to read the defense when you’re up to bat. Put the ball on the ground. Your speed does NOT matter if you are popping the ball up. Catch a coaches’ attention by consistently putting the ball on the ground and having great bat control. By putting the ball in play more often, you’re putting pressure on the defense, and if you have speed, you’re going to pressure them make errors, as they will hurry to get rid of the ball to get you out.
So, you have speed? You have speed AND power? Even better. The toughest players to play against defensively are the players who can drop bombs and can also read the defense and know when to drop a bunt down the line to keep the defense off guard. This greatly comes into play, too, because as a hitter you are going to go through slumps – it’s inevitable. If you are in a slump, and you aren’t seeing the ball well, if you have a little bit of speed, you can lay down a bunt down the line and find another way to get on. A college coach will notice if you are a player who is consistently finding a way on base. If you have speed USE IT, by putting the ball on the ground and causing havoc in the infield. On base percentage is such an important statistic – even more important than batting average.
The Singles Hitter
Okay, so maybe you can’t hit the ball 300 ft and you can’t run a 2.7 to first base. Then where do you fall? If you are a player who is more of a singles hitter, embrace that!! Don’t go up TRYING to hit homeruns, it’s only going to work against your game. KNOW that you are more of a hitter who is looking to hit a single, make contact, advance runners, execute your short game. A singles hitter can be a player who is one of the most “headsy” players on the team. She is always looking for a way to help the team.
For example: There’s a runner at 1B with 1 out. Your best power hitter is on deck. Your execution job is to either lay down a sacrifice bunt OR hit behind the runner (hitting the ball to the right side). If you happen to hit a single to the right side when you are trying to hit behind the runner, more power to you. A singles hitter has to be a little bit more crafty in her thoughts and knowledge of the game. KNOW that you are more of a singles hitter, be a hitter that is consistently making contact, a hitter who has great at bats and and a hitter who is great at putting the ball into play. I promise if you do this, coaches will notice (because coaches know the game and they understand that everybody has their own role), and you will be a benefit to have in the lineup.
Every offensive player in a lineup has a role. All of these offensive roles are needed in a collegiate lineup to work together in a strategic lineup. Don’t try to be something you aren’t. Know your strengths. Be consistent with those strengths. Believe in your strengths. Allow those strengths to flourish when college coaches’ eyes are on you.
Coaches love finding players who just KNOW the game. These are players who can think for themselves and trust their softball instincts. I’ve noticed a lot of times, on tournament teams when I am out coaching, SO many player’s are programmed to just do exactly what their coach tells them – whether it’s when to swing or the exact defensive position to be placed in. These player are learning to be robots, they aren’t learning to be instinctual players out in the field. If you do not learn to think for yourself and position yourself in the game, you will not become the best instinctual softball player you can be. A collegiate coach does not constantly want to be moving the robots out in the field during a game – there are way too many other things to worry about.
Softball savvy players are so aware of their surroundings and the game situation, that they innately know what to do almost every time the ball comes to them.
Coaches like this because then it’s less teaching they have to do about basic nuances of the game once you get to their program. Becoming softball savvy comes from watching softball on TV, it comes from watching baseball on TV, it comes from asking questions, learning and then trusting in what you learned once you get out on the field. If you do not trust your knowledge of the game, and you are second guessing every play and every situation, then it doesn’t matter how much you KNOW about softball, you’re not going to be able to make good decisions once you’re out on the field.
Is it in you? Are you learning or are you a robot? Don’t be a robot!!!! Love this game so much that it just is molded into your brain and your movements out on the field. Ask questions and learn. TRUST what you learn and trust in yourself. Do not be told what to do at all times — this is NOT learning.
I’ve talked about this before in a different one of my blogs :: the ability to be competitive and have a fire in your belly that you want to win is a HUGE quality that cannot really be taught. Knowing how to win might sound like an obvious quality, but it is a TRUE quality that college coaches are looking for in their programs.
They want players that come from winning teams (winning high school teams or winning tournament teams) because then the players get to their collegiate programs and EXPECT to win, because they don’t know anything else. They like players who come from winning programs:: high school teams that win championships and go deep into playoffs and/or travel ball teams that play at the highest quality tournaments AND go deep into those tournaments. Coaches are paying attention to how the teams you are apart of are doing and if winning is a culture that you are around day in and day out. If you are used to winning, it drives you; it becomes a part of you and once you get to college, that winning attitude will stay inside of you.
Remember, college coaches keep their jobs by WINNING. Their livelihood depends on it. So they are going to put out on the field the best lineup that is going to give them the best chance to win. If a player has played in a big championship game at a tournament level or high school level, then that player has championship experience at a young age, which prepares you to compete in championships at the collegiate level.
You can’t teach what it is like to feel a championship game. You have to experience it.
The adrenaline is higher, the stakes are higher, the competition is higher. You have to be able to control your emotions and get ready for THE BIG GAME. So if a college coach knows that a player has championship experience, then this is an added benefit of coming to their team. All coaches expect to be competing IN championship games for their conferences and for the post season. Championship experience and having an attitude of “been there done that” entering the game will calm their team headed into an important game. (No, I am not talking about players who are cocky with the “been there done that” attitude….I am talking about the players who don’t let their emotions get the best of them and are able to go into a big championship game and keep their emotions in check)
They want players who fight, who are internally competitive and hate losing. College coaches want players who hate losing, because THEY hate losing. (Yes, I heard those of you out there who commented on my Sometimes You’re a Loser blog, and I am in agreement with you that there IS a right and wrong a way to lose. BUT in this instance, and in the Sometimes You’re a Loser blog, I am talking about an internal drive that causes you to hate losing and not want to FEEL what it’s like to lose). But back to what I was saying about being a player who comes from a winning team– think of it this way – the more you are winning, the more games you are playing because you stay in tournaments longer, and the longer you are in tournaments, the better the teams you are playing, so quality of competition increases.
Overall, it’s just a win-win, no pun intended. By playing better competition, you become a better player. So you’re playing more games, you’re playing higher talent, and you’re learning what it’s like to truly compete in a championship atmosphere against the best of the best —– which is EXACTLY what you’re doing once you make it to college. See why winning is important?
What do your high school coaches and travel ball coaches say about your attitude and if you are a coachable player?
A coachable player is one who listens respectfully to any coach giving you direction. A coachable player is one who does NOT think she knows more than any coach she comes across.
If a coach is giving her information, she is taking it in like a sponge. A coachable player is someone who never stops learning and wants to continue to grow. If your high school and tournament team coaches think that you are NOT a coachable player, then what would lead a college coach to believe that you would just magically become a coachable player whenever you got to their school? College coaches want someone who is raw and has talent, but also someone who they can coach into an even better athlete once you get to their school. If you are not coachable and you don’t want to learn, then you are not one of those players.
Along with being coachable, a coach wants a player who has a good attitude (This might sound cliche here, but it cannot be stressed enough). College coaches and college players are around each other A LOT. A good attitude makes people around you better, and you’re enjoyable to be around. A bad attitude that is negative is not something that most of us want to be around, especially with the amount that a college team is around each other. Also, remember that our game is a game of failure — it just is! So a coach wants player who have the ability to deal with failure throughout a season because it’s going to be happening — a lot. Sorry, but you’re not going to get a hit every time. Hate to break it to you, but you’re going to give up a home run (or two…or twenty) in college. A player with a positive mindset and attitude can rebound faster. A player with a negative mindset holds on to these things. You have to be able to move on, it’s a long college season.
A good attitude involves caring about the team more than you care about yourself.
Players who throw fits in the dugout and show body language on the field, to me, are more worried about themselves than they are about the team. Remember we play a team sport, because the end result of the team is more important than the end result of an individual player. A player with a bad attitude and a selfish attitude is a cancer, I REPEAT, a cancer to ANY team. You are only as strong as your weakest attitude. Once you get to the collegiate level, it’s all about doing whatever it takes to win and compete. Players who have bad attitudes hold teams back. A coach, then, has to give that player more attention and more time than anybody else on the team, thus making that player a selfish player.
Be aware of your attitude AND your body language!! When coaches come to your games, they can see these things! Even if you don’t think are you giving off bad energy, you very well might be! Coaches are around so many different types of players and WATCH so many different types of players; they are experienced in the arena of picking up on whether or not a player is a team player or not. Work on your attitude and being a good teammate just like you work on your swing. In order for a team to win a championship in college, they must have good team chemistry and a college coach does not want 1 player to hold them back from achieving their goals because that one player has a bad attitude.
You can’t talk about getting recruited to play college ball without the discussion of grades and what kind of student you are in the classroom. (In fact, I probably should have not put this one last on the list as it easily could be #1 and #1 for the simple reason that if you don’t pass, you don’t play…and then this whole talking about getting recruited thing is pointless).
You can be the most talented player on the field or even in an entire tournament, but if you don’t make the grades, then you can’t make it TO college or make it IN college.
I am not saying this because teachers sent me a check to write about this, or parents out there emailed me and wanted me to write about the importance of grades. I am writing about this because this is real life and this is SOOOOO IMPORTANT. With that being said, I am not saying that you have to make all A’s in high school; this might be achieavable for some student athletes, but definitely not for all. I am not an expert on what exact GPA and SAT scores you have to have to get into certain schools, I will leave that research up to you. What I do know, is that a college coach has SO much to worry about, that they don’t constantly want to have to be worried about if their players will be eligible to play due to their grades from semester to semester. But let’s back up a second before talking about actually making the grades when in college….
….FIRST, you have to get IN to a college. There are certain GPAs, ACT, and/or SAT scores you have to make to even be able to make it into a school to be able to play. For some student athletes who don’t have the grades to get into a Division 1 school out of high school, some of them might even start at the junior college level. **Remember that once you become a freshman in high school, EVERY GRADE YOU MAKE COUNTS. So even though you may think, “Oh I’m just a freshmen, my fall semester doesn’t count too much” — you’re wrong.
Study. Make time for school. Going to school and applying yourself in the classroom matters.
One of the first questions a college coach will ask after they spot a player on the field they are interested in is, “How is she in school?” A lot of times this will make or break an athlete if they do not have good grades. A coach looks at someone who doesn’t put in effort in school as someone that they are going to have to baby-sit once that player gets to college. There are so many other things a college coach is worrying about and would rather worry about than making sure his/her starting centerfielder is making the grades every semester to stay eligible. If you don’t make a certain GPA in college every semester and pass a certain amount of hours, then you become ineligible. (Once again, I will leave it up to you to know exactly what that GPA is according to the NCAA). If you are not making the grades at a college and become ineligible, it doesn’t matter if you have the capability of hitting 40 homerun in a season or striking out 400 girls in a year, if you don’t pass, you don’t play, and then you are unable to help your team win.
Another reason it is so important to show that you make good grades in high school is because your to-do list gets better in terms of how many different things you have to balance once you get to college. You are on your own – no parents to monitor how you are managing your time and if you are doing your homework. You have a lot more on your schedule to handle and time manage — class, practice, weights, study hall, study hours on your own, when to eat, practicing on your own outside of normal team practice time, and oh yeah, a social life. So it becomes important to know what your priorities are, and the two main ones are school and softball—- in that order.
There is A LOT that goes into being recruited by a college. Things are happening so early now, with girls committing to play at a school when they sometimes are even in 8th grade or freshmen in high school. It’s important to stand out. Understand from a physical aspect what you do well – and excel at that, that’s how you can stand out. It’s important to learn this at a young age, but at the same time, it’s never too late to learn this. As a coach, communicate with your players about what is important and BE HONEST with them about what they need to get better at. As a player, if your coach is trying to communicate with you about these things, it’s important to listen and be open minded. Your coach is trying to help you get to the next level. None of the things above matter if you don’t have a true love and passion for this game. When you love the game, it shows.
Learn. Grow. Play hard. Be so good they can’t ignore you.
There are a lot of different ways to throw a change up!! I’ve found that incorporating somewhat of a flip into your change is a great way to take speed off a pitch and fool hitters.
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My favorite catcher was never an All American. My favorite catcher never caught me a single day in a college or high school game. My favorite catcher is actually 31 years older than me, and I always call my catcher, Dad.
Now, you won’t be able to find his name, Mark Scarborough, anywhere in a press release, a starting lineup or recognized for any major collegiate award. But because of the impact he made and continues to make on me, I’ll always be able to find him in my memories of growing up playing softball and inside of my heart. Some of my best memories are throwing at a park nearby the house where I grew up, where we put in endless hours of time, not just pitching, but taking groundballs, fly balls and hitting.
When I was younger, I knew my dad got off work at 5pm, and I would be waiting outside in the driveway around 5:15 with his bucket, his glove, my glove, and a ball, ready to go pitch.
He had just spent an entire day at work, but was always willing to catch me whenever I needed or wanted him to, without complaining at all. He knew that it would make me happy and that we would get to spend time together. I actually looked forward to wanting to go out to the park and work with my dad; I didn’t dread it. I imagine that if I would have dreaded working with my dad, or my mom for that matter, I wouldn’t have WANTED to practice as much. But because my relationship with him was so strong, I actually wanted to practice more, creating a work ethic inside of me that is relentless today. I don’t know anything other than working hard for what I want….it’s engrained inside of me from a young age. I’ve watched my dad forever, and when I was younger, my dad LET me work hard by helping me when I needed him to, even in the moments he may have been exhausted from work.
As a family, you spend so much time together doing softball (practicing on your own, going to and from games, at team practices, at lessons, etc), and at the end of it, I came out loving him even more. Some players grow up despising their dads – not wanting to practice with them, not wanting to take their advice, and copping an attitude with their dads. That was never really the case with me, and I can tell you, it still pays dividends in our current relationship we have to this day. I love calling him and getting to have conversations with him, even though we both have a really crazy/busy schedule. It never gets old.
My dad has always had a calm demeanor, always wanting the best for me, but never going to raise his voice in order to get what he wants.
He didn’t raise his voice, because he could communicate with me in a way where he got his point across in a normal tone, and I would still hear him without him having to scream.
Looking back at all the times I worked with my dad, I can tell that he was content with himself and his own personal achievements in his lifetime; never did I feel he was trying to live vicariously through me, whether it was at lessons or games. By him having a calmer demeanor, I truly feel that it let my inner motivation develop, grow, and shine, so now it is a quality that I still possess today, even outside of pitching.
Every dad or mom is not going to have the same personality, and how they choose to handle working with their daughters will vary. But know that no matter which personality you have, you are similarly having a daily impact with your daughters where you will see effects years and years down the road. When I say “daily,” I absolutely, 100% mean daily impact.
The interactions you have now (at practices, during lessons, during games or AFTER games) are molding how you will interact with your daughter later on (when it really matters while talking about things that are outside of softball…..yes there ARE things outside of softball). It’s not about what you know, it’s about how you deliver what you know. The softball conversations, feelings and impressions you are making with your daughter now are shaping the relationship outside of softball you will have with her later.
I think the very most important part is that both parties (adult and child) figure out a form of communication and practice what works for BOTH sides.
Remember, Communication 101, is that for communication to happen, there has to be a sender AND a receiver. If you are not being heard, then you are not communicating – plain and simple.
The more you get creative and figure out a way to talk to your daughter, the more she will listen to you and the more she will want to work throughout the week; thus, creating a better player and better work ethic along the way (which lasts a lot longer than softball). The parent may have to give a little bit, and probably will have to give a little bit more than the player, because at the end of the day it’s about the player, not about the parent. And it’s about the player because you’re trying to get that player to 100% of her potential and do whatever it takes to get that to come out. So….sometimes, it’s having customizable communication plans – it could be different day to day, week to week, year to year. If one way of communicating is not working, and it’s leading to fights and unproductiveness, then it sounds like something needs to change.
One thing about my dad, is that I never felt like he was trying to PROVE anything when I worked with him – to me, to himself, or to anyone else.
When he corrected me, it wasn’t by yelling, or trying to hold above me that he KNEW more than I did. He was teaching me, not just wanting to tell me what he knew – there’s a difference.
He offered suggestions based off of observations. A lot of times he would wait until I needed help and asked for it before he gave it. When he did give it, he talked to me in a way that I respected listening to his input. He established that connection from the first times of going out to pitch that we ever had. We had conversations (two-sided) about pitching. This continued through all ages when I pitched with him, even when I would come back from college and throw over the summers or over winter breaks. I would look forward to throwing to him, sitting on his bucket with his legs off to the side so that his shins/feet were out of harms way (there’s a story to this, and my mom has a theory….later blog, on a different date!). I WANTED to throw to him. I enjoyed it; we both did. It’s some of the best times we have ever spent together.
I can’t thank him enough, and I am so THANKFUL for him and our relationship. I know I am a little bit biased, but a lot of people like my dad. He’s definitely a fan favorite. He’s awesome to be around; he knows sports, can talk business, can talk hunting or fishing, and boy, does he love his Houston sports (and the Cowboys). He’s so humble. (In fact, I know he’s going to be embarrassed when he sees this blog.)
I am so lucky that he is the way he is, because after all the time we’ve spent together, he’s had such a major, positive influence on me. He’s so hard working, and in fact, he’s one of the ones who has taught me that hard work will pay off.
It’s such a simple lesson, but when you are surrounded by someone who is truly living and breathing the hard-work-pays-off lifestyle and mentality, then only you, yourself, can take it on after seeing the rewards it reaps. He rarely, rarely complains. And somewhere along the way (maybe after watching hours upon hours of different sports on TV), he taught me what it meant to compete. He taught me a way of competing where you don’t rub it in anyone’s face – a quiet competitiveness – where you just go about your own business, doing your own thing, and prove it in your own way. There’s never a need to rub it in or say loudly what you can do. He taught me your actions speak for themselves.
It’s because of all these things that he’s my favorite catcher of all time. You can spend A LOT of time with a catcher, and the endless hours and thousands upon thousands of pitches I threw to him mean so much to me. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what we worked on on all those different days, but what I can tell you, is the way he made me feel when I was out there doing the thing I love, getting to throw to the person I love, is what I will remember forever and ever. I felt supported. I felt like someone was on my side and on my team. I felt like I was learning. I felt like softball was fun. I felt like I had a voice. I never felt like I had to pitch; I felt like I got to pitch. He helped create an environment, where I looked forward to practicing to try to become the best player I could possibly be. Indirectly, he was teaching me to become the best person I could be, as well. In the end, it’s not about how you’re teaching to hit or teaching how to throw a change up, it’s about making a girl, with a ball and a bat feel AWESOME about herself, and like she can go out and conquer the world. I know it’s hard to think about that in a 30 minute practice, but just consider that the way you are talking to your daughter now WILL, for better or worse, have a major impact on her (and your relationship) later.
Big thanks to my mom for choosing such a great guy. I love you both so much.