SMC Softball: Coach Michelle Haines
Baptism by fire is never easy. Michelle Haines learned this lesson first-hand as she was thrust into the position of head coach for SMC's four-year defunct softball program.
After the originally hired head coach quit, Haines was thrown into a foreign role and forced to learn the nuances of coaching on the fly. It wasn't an easy task as the team struggled to find a single win, but Haines watched the team progress each successive game and knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.
As the season began, Haines knew it wouldn't go without complications, but even she wasn't fully aware of what was headed her way.
"It was a lot more than I was expecting," said Haines. "Taking on a coaching job at a community college level, I was not aware of everything that it entailed, like learning the rules, understanding how the conference goes, even certain things like making sure field maintenance was up to par. It was a very interesting experience, to say the least."
Haines was thrust into the head coaching position mid-way through the season, and because of that she was unable to make all of the adjustments she felt were necessary.
"I didn't really have a first year; I basically had half a season," she said. "Being thrown into a job where I basically didn't have any time to get a team together, we got as many girls as we could get and ended up with probably a team of eleven."
The lack of able bodies hurt SMC during the season, as the team failed to notch a win and the losses began to wear on the Corsairs.
"By mid-season we got more frustrated," said Haines. "Just because we started to really play well and yet we were still losing."
Despite the struggles, Haines saw beyond the results and into a team built on hard work and determination.
"The fact they kept their heads up the whole time, I knew that it was a good, strong team with a lot character and players that just wanted to play for the love of the sport," she said. "For me, that was the reason why I kept pushing forward and really tried get this program going. It's because I had girls that truly wanted to play."
While that love for the game didn't necessarily translate to wins on the field, it certainly wasn't for lack of effort.
"They all wanted to play so bad," said Haines. "Despite the struggles, they didn't let it bring them down and they didn't let it bring the team down. They really went out there, gave it their all and left their hearts on the field."
Heading into next season, Haines knows there will be obstacles to overcome, but she's confident the team is headed in the right direction and is ready to close the gap between their opposition.
"My expectation is to win," said Haines. "I think we can close that gap now and, along with adding a couple of stronger players, we can come out with a couple wins and continue to improve within the next two years."