Coach Patty Gasso Interviewed By Gary Leland
Gary Leland: Patty, I want to thank you for joining me. It's a real honor to speak with you. You’re one of the few people in a very small club of coaches who've won the NCAA Womens College World Series.
Patty Gasso: Well, thank you for having me. It's been just a wonderful ride and the World Series is something that I'll never forget, a great accomplishment but just some wonderful memories.
Gary Leland: But tell us, how did you first get involved with softball? Let's go back and talk about some of old history.
Patty Gasso: Old history. I lived right next to a park and I was lucky. It was like heaven on earth for a kid because I could walk out my back door and there was just freedom to play and lots of open field and softball fields and my mom was a coach, just brought me up playing softball. Really my sport was flag football back then and I really wanted to be a collegiate flag football player when I was 7 years old because it was such a fun game.
But, I just played a lot. Played. Played. Played. I loved athletics. I had enough athletic ability that my friends would have me make the rules and count on me to set up the game and count on me to organize things. So I really think I learned a lot about leadership just growing up and being the one that people would go to. From there, I just knew that I wanted to coach at a very young age and through high school and straight into college.
I stayed on course, and had my first coaching job as a JV basketball coach when I was 19. I think I was too close in proximity to referees so it was better for me to be a softball coach to keep myself out of trouble. I've been coaching since I was very young and wouldn't ever dream of doing anything else.
Gary Leland: What was your first softball coaching job? Let's talk about that.
Patty Gasso: It was at Sunny Hills High School when I was about 22 years old. I was a student teacher. It was my first varsity job and I just had a blast. My challenge was that I was still pretty close in age to my own players so it was a challenge of setting another level that I wasn't on their level. My players were just really responsive and then I worked at La Mirada High School. I was there for 4 years. Then I went to Lambeth City College and was there for 4 years, and then moved on to the University of Oklahoma. I've been there for 18 years. So I've been coaching for a while.
Gary Leland: Quite a coaching story. Tell us something about your coaching time at OU, which as I told you earlier, my daughter is a boomer sooner and I hear that song all the time. So are you sooner born, and sooner bred, and will be sooner dead?
Patty Gasso: Well, hopefully. I'm not sooner born but I'm sooner bred. It definitely runs in your veins. It's a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place to work with great athletes, great administrators but I've just had a blast there and developed a program that was really struggling when I first arrived. It's been very consistent, a program that is consistently winning but also consistently trying to win national championships.
Gary Leland: What would you say would be your favorite softball moment if you had a moment, which I know you've had a lot? Do you have one and you go, “Gosh! I will remember this forever.”
Patty Gasso: Yeah, there's so many. But I think I would refer back to my family and after we won the national championship, my son who is now 16, soon to be 17 was about 4 years old; my oldest who's 23 was about 11 and they had their faces painted and as soon we won the national championship, my husband came out with my kids and we just kind of had a family spiritual moment together that was captured on film. Every time I see it, it makes feel that moment which was extremely special. So I mean that's just one of many. My players have created so many fantastic memories and moments that I'll cherish forever.
Gary Leland: I noticed this morning, as I saw you at the FCA banquet and you're on the board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Softball. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Patty Gasso: Well, I've been thoroughly blessed by God and all of the talents that He's given me to work with young athletes and all of the successes we've been awarded but I know this isn't about me. It's about the gifts that God has given me and I have been honored to be asked, to be on this committee by Bob Pinto and led by Dot Richardson. So my husband and I are both members of this advisory panel. It’s just been an absolute honor to share my story and just hope to lead others in that direction.
Gary Leland: Let me ask you this question. A lot of kids may want to know this. If you're a kid in high school, and want to play at OU, what would be the next step. Because there's a lot of great athletes that just never get seen, and they're going to a school other than the one they want to go to because they never were seen. What would be their best step to say, “Here's what I would do.”
Patty Gasso: Well, there are so many athletes out there to be seen and you as a coach are always feeling like you're missing out on some really good players. What I need help in is how can you help me see you and to me you can help me by sending me a video and it can be short and it can be your dad doing it of a flip camera and just send me some highlights and let me look and that one encourages me to find you.
So when we're out on the recruiting trail, I will find you if your video really opens my eyes. I look for talent. I don't look for specific positions but I'm looking for talent. You can put together a 5-minute video. It separates you from a resume. A resume is good. It helps me get to know you but it's like everyone else. When I see you on video, now you are you. I get to see your athletic ability.
Gary Leland: Do you prefer a DVD set or an email file?
Patty Gasso: I think emails are now the way to go for me. I'll look at it. If you send me a DVD, I'll certainly look at it but more convenient for me to see anything on email. If you put it on YouTube and you send me the link, I can pop it right on. It's really the best way for me to see you and get a chance to see you in the future. So that's what I would strongly recommend.
Gary Leland: While where on this subject, is there anything that you would say to kids who say, “Okay, I want to do that. I want to get video.” Could you say, “Here's what I really want to see on the video.” That this is I want to see or something.”
Patty Gasso: I want to see you athletic ability. So I don't want to see you bunt 20 times in a row. Show me a couple of bunts. Show me your ability to hit the ball to all fields. I'd like to see someone pitching to you versus a front tosser because it really shows me your timing. It shows me your better mechanics. I'd like to see you sprint at least one time the first base I can get you on the clock. I'd like to see you play a few defensive positions. Show off your arm. Show off your range. Just show off your athleticism. Show off your passion. Show off your love for the game. If you make a mistake, it's okay.
You don't have to go back and rewind it and delete it. That's part of what I would expect in a video. I don't want you to go extra trouble to impress me because it's not by the production but more of the talent and the content of what I'm seeing. So I just say show off your athleticism. The more you can do the better. If you're a pitcher, let me see different angles. I want to see how your pitches moving. So I want to see you some action from behind.
Mechanically, let me see some looks from the side so I can see what you're looking like mechanically. Same thing with hitting, let me see what you look like mechanically and then get a camera maybe behind so I can see where the pitch location is and what you're doing with it. But it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes and you can do it pretty easy.
Gary Leland: When you're talking about having someone to throw a pitching, do you prefer a dad just throw in soft from out there or are we talking about let's have a real pitcher throwing to you?
Patty Gasso: Well, if you can't find a real pitcher, I'd like to see kind of a windmill approach. If you can't get that then just do front toss. It's better to me than a machine. But I like to see how you hit an outside pitch, how you turn on an inside pitch. I like to see locations. If you can't get live action then give me a little bit of game footage and let me see what that looks like. If you can attach some game clips that helps as well.
Gary Leland: Well, hopefully that will improve the quality of your videos coming to you. I want to thank you for taking the time. Lot of times I ask people to tell me something no one else knows, but I don't think many people know that you were a basketball coach for your first coaching job. So you may already have done that.
Patty Gasso: It didn't last long. I wouldn't count on that information to go very far. Yeah, I did coach for 2 years in basketball and decided softball as my ambition.
Gary Leland: That's definitely something no one knows about you. Thanks a lot. I appreciate you coming on.
Patty Gasso: Thank you. Thank you very much.
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