By: Cat Osterman
Two months in a row I have remembered to blog, I think this might be a record! =) Hope the off-season is treating you all well. Even though we all are suffering from softball withdrawals, we are all also keeping busy. I know a lot of my teammates are training to get ready for the USSSA Pride Fall Tour, while some of us are focused on coaching our respective colleges. I fall in the latter category. It’s been a little over a month that I have been at my new job at Texas State University. I will say, wearing maroon is a little different, but I love being a Bobcat!
Most people think switching from the player role to the coaching role would be hard, but I find it relatively easy to take off my playing hat when the time comes to coach. I can honestly say I have never wanted to be out on the field throwing for my pitchers. I take a lot of delight watching them work hard every day, and then watching it translate to performances in games. For me, teaching is the fun part! Yes, I love playing, but I could sit and talk pitching for hours on end. As much as pitching is a challenge, communicating what to do and how to do it to each pitcher, is just as much of a challenge. Each pitcher responds to different words or phrases. I can be saying the same thing, but one pitcher might respond to me telling her to focus on where her thumb finishes, while the other one responds to which finger should lead the snap. I’m saying the same thing, but each pitcher has to be communicated to differently. It’s fun to learn each pitcher’s tendencies and ways they process our ideas.
I think it would surprise a lot of people to know I have a good deal of patience when I am coaching. I don’t have much patience with anything else in my life, so it would shock some of my friends to see me in coaching action! It’s easy for me to understand what I can and can’t expect from each pitcher. I think part of this comes from not having an expectation of my pitchers to throw like I do. Another part of that comes from the coaches I had. They were all pretty calm and patient. There was always a reason to what we were doing and they explained that reason. As a player, I liked knowing I wasn’t just throwing for the sake of throwing. I use that same philosophy when I am coaching.
My own playing experiences have also made me realize how productive bullpens can be when your coaching isn’t constantly demanding your bullpen to be perfect. Instead, the coach explains to their pitchers how things should feel when you throw it right. Getting the feel of pitching takes longer than a few pitches. This is something I stress to my pitchers and it stems from what I learned as a player.
I have never compared any of my pitchers to myself. That’s not fair to them. I think that perspective helps me be able to work with each girl and get the most out of her. Every pitcher has different strengths. Some throw harder than others, while others can spin the ball tighter. I also have one who has really good control, so each pitcher has to work on something different in the bullpen in order to maximize our strength but continue to improve.
Our team just started our fall season. Team practice started on Monday, and we had our first two games in Houston this past weekend. We won both and my pitchers threw well. Not having ever seen any of my pitchers throw in a real game setting, I didn’t know what expectations to have. If I did have any expectations, then they exceeded all of them! In 14 innings we only walked 1 and gave up 2 runs. There is work to do, but I think we are off to a good start. I am refraining from taking too much credit as a coach right now. My pitchers have definitely improved, but it’s only been a month, so I credit them to buying in to the things we have been keying on. I am always proud of them, but for me, this weekend was more of a chance to finally see them all throw in live game settings. It’s fun to see their hard work pay off in a game setting!
This season adds another dimension to coaching. I get to coach with my long time friend and teammate Kelly Kretschman. This adds a twist in things sometimes. Our boss jokes saying it’s almost worse than having sisters as assistants. Kelly and I know how to agree to disagree, but if we are in the confines of our office, it won’t go without some debate, which usually is pretty comical. It’s interesting to hear her perspective on our team because we don’t share that patience I mentioned! As teammates we are similar in our competitive nature and being tough on ourselves. I think we both probably comment about each other under our breath when we play as well! =) But coaching, we are definitely different, which is a good balance for our athletes.
Kelly and I are also roommates, but when we get home at night, we don’t talk about work that much. It’s a plus to be able to leave work at the office, or else we would stress each other out. For the record, Kelly’s outfielders made her look amazing this weekend with 3-4 outfield assists. I know better though! 😉
Well I need to wrap this up and get to work on some of my grad school reading! I’m in my final stretch of classes! I am taking two right now, and my Capstone class will end in May. Then I will be a graduate of the University of Missouri too!
Everyone have a great month of October…