Today I start my official journey as an assistant softball coach for Basalt High School. And I’m incredibly nervous, to say the least.
I wanted to take a moment and share this perspective and this day, to have as a point of reference and something I can look back at to compare. I’m hopeful for good vibes and visible transformations, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The season is right around two months long.
There’s a lot of things pulling me in different directions today. I feel like I’ve been out of the game for so long, and that I’ve lost a little bit of my general sharpness (which is also from not watching baseball as often due to my ego and my husband’s disappointment in the Rockies), and that maybe I’m a little bit less qualified as someone who never played outside of high school. (I should also say: I coached 12, 14, and 16 year-olds in the summer during college, so this is partly my old friend Impostor Syndrome knocking.)
I’m also pretty nervous about the environment. Basalt is a 50 minute drive from my house, one way. It’s set up in a much different way than Gunnison’s team, where everyone has known and played with each other for 10-plus years with the same set of coaches and a single sports complex. Here, girls from three different schools are joined together; Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs. There’s a girl who lives in New Castle on the team, too, which seems crazy to me. The head coach is new, the two assistant coaches (myself included) are new, and there’s barely a full roster of girls signed up, with little to no team pride or traditions.
It’s in a totally different place in a school system I really don’t know anything about, other than we were rivals back in my playing days.
Basalt High School was the only enemy I knew from ages 14-18. It was totally made up and kinda dumb and also funny to look back at, but we played those girls with passion and intense dislike, thinking that they were the people we needed to beat and hate to succeed.
I played my last game of all time on that field, in 2012. When I walked on the outfield a few weeks ago for an optional practice, my eyes involuntarily started watering and my stomach had an automatic physical response—the diamond literally holds so many memories and emotions for me, even though I’d only played there a handful of times.
I’ll never forget the purple dirt staining my socks for the last time, the hugs where we cried our goodbyes to our coaches, getting a hard hit from the second baseman, the feeling of everything ending a little too soon.
I didn’t end up playing college softball, which was quite a shock to everyone close enough to know what a dream it had been for me. I’m glad I made this decision and I’m happy at the way my life turned out, but there’s something still a little triggering in this physical space I’m about to call home for the next couple months.
I have several goals for this season, and I’m packed with ideas to make this group of girls a team. We have already implemented a few: we ordered t-shirts for the team (somehow they never did this before???), our tryouts will end with one-on-one coach meetings, we’ll be setting team goals as a team, and we will be taking a creative team photo for posters.
I have a million more ideas, mostly stolen from my own experiences on an amazing team. Shoutout to my former coach D, who has set an impossible precedent that I’m trying so hard to replicate and follow: creating a team, building a foundation of skills, making a fun and kick-ass environment.
My main goal is to make this season as fun as possible and bring some passion to the game. These girls deserve something that adds a spark to their lives. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Here we go.