Sue Enquist Interviewed By Gary Leland
Gary Leland: How did you get involved in softball? What age did you start playing softball? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Sue Enquist: Sure. I started actually in baseball. My brother played baseball. I was the little sister that tagged along. I had a really an influential coach in John Springman that included me. I was the official ball shagger but at the end of every practice, he would give me my cuts.
Softball was added in our town. I got involved with local softball. Went on and played baseball in high school. I was the first girl to play baseball in the state of California under Title IX and that got me the exposure to UCLA. So that was really the quick trip to my opportunity with UCLA.
Gary Leland: I did not know that about being the first girl in California to play baseball. You are kind of like Dot Richardson though on your background. She played a lot of baseball when she was young.
Sue Enquist: Oh, I have no problem if you put my name in Dot’s name in the same sentence. I have tremendous amount of respect for her. There are a lot of parallels between Dot’s career and mine. I’m a little bit further along than Dot. I’m a little bit older than she is.
Gary Leland: Well, you said now that’s how were seen by UCLA .
Sue Enquist: Yes.
Gary Leland: And then you went on there to play and have a great career.
Sue Enquist: Thank you.
Gary Leland: Can you tell us a little bit about that.
Sue Enquist: It was a program that was hovering above club status. Judith Holland came in as the athletic director and really started to infuse a budget where we had money. We had a coach that came in, Sharron Backus who created a template from which we all copied throughout the decades. What you see today is what Sharron Backus started. After 3 years of Sharron running the program, we grabbed the national championship and we never looked back.
Gary Leland: Is that where you got your coaching skills from?
Sue Enquist: I graduated from UCLA with the BS in Kinesiology with plans of being a respiratory therapist in emergency room. Sharron Backus asked me for one quarter to help out with the team. I said, “Well, sure. I’ll help you out because I think the world of you and anything for UCLA but I’m not going to get into coaching.”
Gary Leland: Well, that turned didn’t out quite like you planned.
Sue Enquist: No. It didn’t. I fell in love with it. The bug bit me and ended up working three jobs for 11 years before I could go full time. I did that for 27 years.
Gary Leland: You had a great career. A 10-year career I think with a ton of wins?
Sue Enquist: We had some good pitching. Sharron taught me how to stay out of the way.
Gary Leland: Yeah, you did a good job of staying out the way if that’s what it takes.
Sue Enquist: Thank you. What else I’m doing is also very meaningful. I’m an expert witness on Title IX cases. It very important for me to give back to those schools that are experiencing discrimination, a lot of it is a lack of education. I have the opportunities to go in worked with law firms to be an expert witness to do comparative opinions, write reports and then be deposed to talk about the discrepancies between our softball and our baseball programs in college, and youth.
Gary Leland: Could you give us a tips for new softball coaches?
Sue Enquist: The tip for the new coach – it’s not only what you‘re saying but it’s how you’re saying it. We picked a failure sport. They naturally are going to question themselves. Their confidence is tested every day for the new coach. Your tone, your inspiration is imperative with young athletes going out there to try and be the best they’re capable of being.
If I were to tell you one thing, it is be positive and be hopeful. It takes discipline every day as a coach to serve the game. The game comes first. We’re servants of the game. We’re messengers to the game. It’s not about us. It’s about the kids. You always got to remember that. If you got constructive criticisms, give it to them one on one. You don’t have to shout across the infield on your shortstops positioning that they are an idiot. Call out a timeout and do a one on one or bring them in the dugout but at in the end of the day, we’re the coaches, we’re in the back draft, the game is for the kids.
At the end of the day, they’ll remember the ones that lift them up and inspire them and if you’re that individual that is demeaning and indignant to those student athletes that sticks with them for a lifetime and could be very damaging. So it’s hard because sometimes as coaches, we get the sense that we wanted more than they do. It’s our job to get them to figure out how to be the best they’re capable of being every day with your positive consistent voice.
Gary Leland: And I think it’s too easy to find examples of what they shouldn’t be according to what you are saying. I’ve seen way too many examples of those on the field.
Sue Enquist: Yeah. I just tell coaches all the time. Give yourself a 30-second timeout before you get on the field. I want to take this moment to shout out to every youth coach out there that is doing this for free, which means that you’re making probably a negative $15 an hour because of the time and the money and the travel and the equipment.
So thank you because you’re a foundation for our college coaches to be the beneficiaries of what you are doing. What you do today with that 8-year-old is connected to the college coach in ten years. If you remember that, give yourself 30 seconds, 10 seconds whatever it is before you walk out on that field and remember the next 2 hours is for them and that this day is connected to the day they become a champion. Your days all of a sudden have more value and you can be more effective and a positive influence in their life.
Gary Leland: Okay. Now, I’m a student in high school, maybe younger, my goal is to play in college. My goal may be to play for UCLA but not for that school particularly say but my goal is to play in college. Can you give me something you say, “Here’s something you really need to work on. Here’s something you need to do that will help you along your travel to that path.”
Sue Enquist: At the end of the day, come early and stay late. So if you have practice at 3 to 5, come at 2:30. Put in 30 minutes of your own time to breathe, an attitude that you’ve earned the success that you’re about to get. Stay late. Spend more time on another part of your game but most importantly, make sure that you’re getting great grades in all the core classes.
If you’re not, go ahead and spend an extra hour a night in those classes that you’re not doing well in and then reach out and get extra help during high school so your grades don’t hold you back from the opportunities that you have when it comes to college.
Gary Leland: And now, what’s your website if anyone’s interested in coming out and looking at your website to finding more about what you’re up to?
Sue Enquist: They can reach me at SueEnquist.com. If they want to go ahead and fill out the application if they want me to run clinics, make appearances. I love giving back to the game. When I retired I knew I was never going to stop teaching and coaching the game. It’s just that I wasn’t going to be in the third base box.
Gary Leland: Thanks Sue.
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