McKeesport, Pa. - As Spring quickly approaches, the Penn State Greater Allegheny softball team has been well underway in preparing for their season.
Newly appointed head coach Jennifer Smith has her players up and running through 6 a.m. practices that began several weeks ago, in preparation of the 2015 season. Smith, who co-head coached with Amanda Maksin during the previous season and has been a part of the program for five years, is both excited and anxious for the new season, embracing the diversity of her players and welcoming a new coaching staff member.
Coach Smith also welcomes former player, pitcher and center-fielder Samantha Siegel to her coaching staff. As the first tournament of the season quickly approaches, Smith has her standards set of how each athlete is expected to perform, all while still getting to know her new players.
"A positive attitude, strong work ethic, the ability to communicate to their team members and to listen to instruction," said Smith. "I want to see 100% effort given at all times, no matter what we are doing. We aim for progress, not perfection."
While these teammates have different playing experiences, the willingness and effort of each player is more than Smith and the returning players could ask for. "I am patient with them, but push them to realize their individual potential and make sure that they are having fun while working hard to learn the game. As long as they give me 100% and have positive attitudes, that's all a coach can ask for."
Smith also adds, "Every single girl brings something different to a team atmosphere: some are more vocal, others are great at keeping their teammates upbeat and positive, some push others to work harder and others are shy and take it all in." With all of the positive energy Smith has been bestowing upon her players, getting to that point was not an easy task.
"We are going to work hard and make sure our fundamentals and game knowledge are on point in order to play the best the we absolutely can."
Coach Smith, Coach Siegel, and those student-athletes who are returning, are even more passionate and anxious about this season, knowing the potential they see in each individual player and what each individual could possibly do for the team.
"There are so many different dynamics when coaching girls, so it's extremely important to learn each girl's personality and coach them accordingly, so that you can push them to excel and to improve individually and as a team. Attitude is one of the most important things to me in a player. You have to be a good teammate and stay positive," said Coach Smith.
"Softball is fun, but you have to work hard and give it your absolute best on the field every single inning. If you do that, win or lose, you can walk off of the field knowing you gave your all and sometimes it's all timing and momentum of whether the outcome is in your favor."
Smith concludes, "As long as they learn something new about softball, and about themselves, while playing under me, then I've done my job."
The new and improved softball team is geared to start their 2014-15 schedule, Tuesday March 24th for their first non-conference appearance. Greater Allegheny will travel to Youngwood, Pa. to take on Westmoreland County Community College. The first pitch of the double-header is set for 3 p.m.
By: Christina Floyd
Athletic Department Intern