Being a Coach
“Don’t underestimate the people. Let them decide.”
-Thaksin Shinawatra, Politician
During the bus rides to our away games, I would listen to Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.” I was the only female assistant college baseball coach in the country – but that didn’t matter so much to me. What mattered to me was being a good coach; to help these young men become better baseball players and better people.
I was 16 when I told my hero/baseball coach that I wanted to be a college baseball coach. Immediately he laughed, and promised that no man would listen to a woman on a baseball field. Despite the lump in my throat, I ignored him, and decided I would still go after my dream. The truth is I didn’t really believe him.
It was my third year coaching at Springfield College, when a Varsity player came up to me to ask for some fielding advice. He needed help. He didn’t go to the Head Coach or even to the other two assistants, who all had some pro experience; he came to me. He asked. And I helped. Just like any coach would.
My 12u girls’ all star team, the Sparks, play annually at Cooperstown Dreams Park. Imagine 103 boys’ teams and our 13 girls. During one of our games, when Chelsea Baker, the knuckle ball pitcher, who has thrown two perfect games, was
pitching, we had over 700 fans watching the game. The fans, composed of mainly twelve year old boys who were also tournament participants, could be heard chanting in succession: “Baseball-For-All!” The boys were cheering for the girls – their fellow baseball players.
I like to joke that every time a girl strikes out a boy, she just made him a better father. Boys and girls, women and men, can enjoy the game of baseball together. I know being a female limits some of my understandings of what it is to become a man. But I do know something of what it takes to become a good father, a loving husband, and a happy person. And to me, that’s the job of a good baseball coach – to teach how we can become better – on and off the field. Man or Woman.