They are smart, talented, educated, and every day I am thankful to be around such an experienced group of people.
Each of our Certified Instructors makes the rest of us better. This week I had a chance to talk with a real veteran of the game, Heather Pomilio, who represents us on Long Island, about observations from the College World Series. Not as old as me, few people are, Heather has played and coached at the highest levels of the game. When she speaks, we listen.
Heather saw some lessons that can benefit all of us. Her first observation, “The biggest I saw was that softball was alive and well. Girls were intense but laughing at the same time. Errors were made but you would never know by their body language, coaches weren’t screaming, nor were they saying much to the players, only in time of need.”
Heather was particularly impressed by a comment from Patti Gasso that “the game does not define us”. It is a good point. If your entire identity revolves around being a softball player, who are you at the end of your career? If winning is everything, does that mean that players on the other 285 D1 softball teams are losers? The game is great for the things the game does for us, the lessons learned, and the opportunity to face adversity and learn your own unique ways to overcome it.
Heather also said the sense of teamwork was encouraging, “Players were always picking each other up and there was a no-fear attitude the whole time.” She went on to say, “As a former coach I loved everything I saw, the grit, determination, class acts by both sides, the patting on the back even when you lose…it should be the way you coach and play. Girls weren’t fearful of their coach, they just played the game they loved.”
Best of all, she said there were lessons from which kids can learn, “You heard stories of perseverance from players who have had surgeries, setbacks, you name it, but they continued to push. Stories of it never too late to learn. Pitchers learning new pitches and working on them to throw them in less than one year.”
Best of all, we all agree that it was refreshing to see some coaches listen to their players. If a pitcher wasn’t feeling really strong today, let her rest. If pitching might put her health at risk, do not take the chance. This has not always been the case.
Best of all, we saw the backup players completely involved in the games. There were many kids sitting who would have started for 200 other teams in the country, but they wanted to compete for a top spot on a top team, they believe their hard work will eventually play dividends, and you could see that their coaches made each feel valued.
Heather summarized, “Thank you to the coaches and players for making the game so fun to watch.” And, we want to thank Heather for going beyond the scores and reminding us that the score is the outcome of a game, but if others noticed what she observed, there were a lot of winners at the end of this series.