When It All Comes Together

When it all comes together

When it all comes together Written By Renee Ferguson

Have you ever had one of those teams where you just knew the talent and ability was there but for some reason the team never quite reached the level of play that you as their coach knew they were capable of? Yeah, me too. This college softball season has been one of struggle. Not only the struggle to reach our potential, but the struggle to work together, the struggle to never quit and the struggle to either get on board with the program or get out of the way. As a coach I am still not sure how to best deal with teams that struggle with a lack of internal motivation towards the game. Some seem to think it’s the coaches job to motivate them to do better, others seem to think that it’s on the players and yet there are others like me who feel like it needs to be a 2 way street.

I am a coach who honestly can no longer “DO” what I want my players to do. I have an autoimmune disorder and most of the times suffer from extreme joint pain and tiredness. I work 3 jobs, have 3 kids, and a husband. If I did everything I wanted to do at the field I would end up paying for it with pain and days spent sleeping 17 out of 24 hours. On several occasions I asked my team what I needed to do to motivate them, I used several strategies all of which had worked with past teams (yelling, running, being patient and understanding) you name it I tried it. Yet we too often found ourselves rolling over during tough games. After a while I resigned myself that this was just the way it was going to be this season. I removed my expectations of how well I thought we should perform as a team and found myself faced with the reality that we just weren’t going to perform at the level of play we were fully capable of.

I stopped talking to them after we lost, they knew what happened and so did I so what was there to talk about? I made quick talks out of our wins and tried not to focus on one thing more than another, simply stating that errors were killing us, instead of going into lecture mode and trying to get feedback about performance from them. The day before regionals we had our ‘final’ practice and honestly we looked less than stellar, so much so that I cut the fielding portion of practice short and moved onto hitting.

Then something amazing happened, we show up for our first game at regionals and I mean we really “showed up”. I finally got a glimpse of the team I always knew we could be, we stayed pumped up, and energized through every game that we played that weekend, not because I wanted them to but more importantly because they wanted to . The team who struggled to recover from mistakes was gone and a team who picked each other up both at the plate and in the field remained. The games weren’t cake walks and two of the 3 games we won by one run but in the end, I am so very proud of these young ladies because for everything that they have endured as a team this year got them to this very place, a place of hunger and desire to achieve the team goal that we set at the beginning of the season to ultimately wind up one of the top 5 teams in the nation.

As far as knowing how a team will perform, we as coaches often try to predict the future based on past experiences; this season I have come to realize that sometimes you have to give up hopes and expectations in order to create the room for your players to develop and grow as individuals and as a team on the field. I can’t look at them and set a standard based on a previous team with similar athletic capabilities and determine exactly where or how we are going to finish as a team. Doing so pigeon holes the current team’s desire or ability to transform into the team they can be. One thing is for sure, I always try to put together a schedule that will allow for our team to peak at the right time of the season (usually a couple of weeks before playoffs) in the hopes that we can ride the wave to the national tournament. This process is usually hit or miss but I’m telling you one thing, I never know exactly when it’s all going to come together but when it does…”its magical.”

Fastpitch Magazine

Renee Ferguson

Renee Ferguson

Renee Ferguson Renee has over 30 years of combined playing and coaching experience at the select and college levels. After a 3 year stint as Division I, Morgan State University’s pitching coach; Renee was appointed the Head Women’s softball Coaching position at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. Where she lead the Pioneer Softball team to an 8th place finish, in the NJCAA DIII Nationals in Rochester MN after taking the helm only weeks before the 2013 season started. Renee’s goal is to instill the love and passion that she has for the game, into each and every one of her players and students. Keep up with Renee Ferguson by visiting her site at DirtInTheSkirtSports.com.Join Renee On: Facebook.

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