Lessons from the Softball College World Series
Today I am going to talk about something that is probably still on the minds of many. The championship series of the women’s college world series. What a series it was.
First I am just going to tell you that my commentary on the championship series is only my opinion and not necessarily that of those directly involved in the event. Now…. I have to say that what Coach Gasso of the Oklahoma Sooners did was the most gutsy and selfless thing that a coach could ever do. The NCAA Division 1 championship was on the line and she made a decision that most would not have even considered. After her team won the first game, with the health of her number one pitcher in mind, as many of you know, she kept her off the field for the second game which could have clinched the championship. In my opinion, what Patti Gasso did was as athlete centered as it gets.
She knew that Paige Parker was not in any condition to perform at her best for the second game, not only based on her observations but also because she has established such a rapport with her players that Paige was able to honestly say that no she was not going to be able to guarantee her what was needed to win the second game. How team oriented is that. Many pitchers would have said YES I am good to go even if they were only 60% or less.
There are two things that Coach Gasso did in this situation. Number 1 she took care of her players first. She knew that she was putting Paige at risk not only for the moment but for her future if she had played her when she was not physically capable. But also, think about it. They could have lost the second game because Paige was not even 80% and then they could have lost the third game too because she would have been even less capable the next day due to lack of recovery and regeneration.
Would I be talking about this even if Oklahoma had not won the third game? Yes I would and the reason I would is this. There was a statement that Coach Patti Gasso said which reassured my thoughts on the situation. She said that she needed to consider her players health and she was going to have to live with the consequences whatever happened. Not exactly in those words but the message was there. That said to me that even if they had lost the second and the third game, her players health was still more important. You just don’t get that kind of athlete centred approach as much as we should.
A lot can be learned from this event not only on but off the field. We can keep going back to the fact that they won and what a strategy and great decision by the coach but I truly believe that even if they had not won the championship, the biggest thing that I saw from that series was a display of team pride and a group of selfless athletes who always had each others back regardless of the outcome.
This is the kind of coaching that really touches my heart as well and my coaching philosophy. And I would like to thank you Coach Patti Gasso of the Oklahoma Sooners for your display of athlete centered coaching.