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Cathi Aradi

Fastpitch Coach: Q&A

Current school: Brenham High School (Texas). AAAA Division, about 1500 Students

Number of years in this position: Beginning my ninth Year of coaching softball in Brenham. It's the only coaching job I’ve ever had.

Overall record: 187-72-2 in eight seasons

Other accomplishments: Won the AAAA State Championship in Texas in 1996 Won five district championships, five Bi-district Championships, four Area championships, three-time Regional Semifinalists and one Regional Championship. Thirty-one players have received softball scholarships in eight seasons. Two NFCA High School All-Americans, five all-Region.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees: Texas A&M University in 1987 and 1991.

Playing experience: Played high school and junior college baseball, and played seven years of men's fastpitch including three national tournaments as a catcher and shortstop.

Q: When did you know you wanted to coach fastpitch softball and how did you get started?

WM: I was given a brand new high school softball program in 1991. I started the program at Brenham High School in Spring of 1992 with no equipment, no uniforms and no fastpitch softball experience. I had never seen a game before in my life. I came to Brenham to be a boy's basketball coach, and they gave me girl's softball as a second sport. It was after the first season that I began to realize girls worked harder than guys and were more coachable. I began to search for information and knowledge about the game to make my program the best it could be.

Q: Who are some of the coaches you've learned the most from?

WM: I learned most of what I know offensively from one coach, the guru of fastpitch hitting, Mike Candrea of Arizona. I saw two different lectures that year about hitting and bought his video. His philosophy is great and understandable. Defensively I have learned from Dianne Baker and all other coaches I have played against who have shown me better ways of doing things.

Q: What do you think you do best as a coach?

WM: I get the most out of my players. I think my greatest asset is my ability to teach something to kids, and hitting is my strongest point. I have given over 15 lectures in the last four years on hitting.

Q: As a high school coach, what would change would you like to see your state or national governing body make?

WM: The high school season should start in April instead of February, and go into the summer months so (college) coaches can see more of my kids in high school ball, not ASA.

Q: What makes for a successful season?

WM: I define a successful season as one in which we exceed our expectations of the program. This could be in wins and losses, playoffs, attitude, leadership, scholarships, etc.

Q: What do you think was the best coaching job you ever did?

WM: My greatest coaching job was the season following our state championship of 1996. In 1997, we had only three returning starters but we won 25 games and beat the '97 state champions and runners-up. The talent level was about half that of the year before, but the kids improved every game and believed they could win and did.

Q: What was your greatest moment as a coach?

WM: 1996 when we made the final out in the 1996 AAAA HS State Championship game and won 1-0. I just sat by the dugout and watched four years of effort and accomplishments be finally reached by one of the best group of kids I have been a part of. I just loved watching them celebrate and enjoy the moment. Then they came to me and found me to celebrate with them.

Q: What was your worst moment?

WM: My worst moment as a coach comes at the end of every season when I have to say goodbye to my captains and seniors after a season-ending loss.

Q: What is funniest/strangest/most memorable experience you and your team have had on the road?

WM: Last year's experience during the playoffs. On the way to our game, we stopped and ate. As we were returning to the site of the playoff game, the chartered bus began to have problems. We pulled over in Houston and the driver was on the cell phone trying to get it worked out and walking around the bus. While this was going on a female wrapped only in a towel and top began walking towards the bus. She got to the bus and crawled into the luggage racks and began to go through clothes before she had to be physically removed by the driver.

Q: What's your take on the bat and ball issue? Are the balls or bats at fault, or both, or neither? Is there a problem? If so, what would you like to see done?

WM: I believe the balls used in college are much too hard with the improvements in bats and the distance of the mounds in college. The bases and where players have to play make it quite dangerous for infielders and pitchers. In high school the balls (.50 core) are OK because the 40 feet distance is still the overwhelming advantage for the defense.

Q: What do you love most about coaching?

WM: The competition and the goal-setting done by a group of individuals who come from all aspects of life. I coach girls in softball and guys in football each year and my greatest satisfaction comes now knowing that I have a group of females that work just as hard if not harder with less griping than the guys. We hit weights and condition and take our sport as seriously as the guys do in the state of Texas with football.

Q: What do you love least about coaching?

WM: The limited time the high school governing body of our state allows us with our athletes. We in Texas have a set season Feb. 1 thru May 22. Outside of these dates, I as a coach can have no coaching contact or input with any of my kids outside of the one-hour athletic period during the school year. I cannot instruct, assist or coach any of my kids accept during this three month period but yet I have kids that play year-round and get frustrated because their skills decline due to limited instruction.

Q: Please complete this sentence: "My coaching career has been successful if the majority of my players...

WM: Attain the majority of goals they have set either as a player or as a team. This could be in win and losses, it could be in titles or it could be in just becoming more team oriented or it could be in scholarships or individuals stats. If I feel I have accomplished the most I could from a group I'm happy and content, if I feel we were underachievers I am disappointed.

Q: Who was the best player you've ever coached against?

WM: The best player I have ever coached against would without a doubt be Christa Williams when she was pitching in 1996 at Pasadena Dobie High School in Houston. We played her twice that year and we lost both games, 4-1 and 4-0. But we were able to score an earned run off her and we went on to win the AAAA state championship that year.

Q: Which is the best team you’ve ever coached?

WM: The best team I have ever coached would have to be my own 1996 AAAA Texas State Championship team. The three years prior as they were growing up and maturing into ball players and young ladies was full of disappointments and under-achievements but we grew more from each setback. In 1996 we won the state championship and not one kid in 1996 got a scholarship to a Division I school. We were a great team that grew together and won it as a team.

Q: What haven't you done yet in your life that you still want to do?

WM: There are two things in life I would still like to do. I would like to be a head coach at a Division I college. I know I have the knowledge and ability but can't seem to get the opportunity. I would like the opportunity to see if I could cut it at the big level. Also, I want to be a big enough influence on my own two sons and their athletic lives to see them get the opportunity to play college ball and maybe the pros.

Q: What advice would you give to young people who want to coach softball?

WM: I could write a book on advice I could give other people wanting to coach softball since I had never seen a game before I was given the head job in 1991. But the book would all revolve around the same topic: Don't feel you're too smart to learn!!! I have continued to learn and research the ways others coach. I won't say I will always agree but I learn from others. Anyone that says that they developed a new technique for doing something probably hasn't been looking for new things because they are out there. I knew nothing and within five years I won a state title.

Q: If you weren't coaching softball, what would you be doing?

WM: If I weren't coaching softball I would still be the head Boy's basketball coach at Brenham HS or at a college as an assistant because this is why I became a coach. But the respect and dedication I have learned from coaching my team and from female athletes in general made me change to being a female coach and I love it.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

WM: Hoosiers.

Q: Your favorite movie star?

WM: Meg Ryan.

Q: Your favorite TV show?

WM: Seinfield

Q: Your favorite song?

WM: "The Dance", Garth Brooks; "Jeremy", Pearl Jam.

Q: Your favorite food?

WM: Grilled chicken and pasta.

Q: Favorite book?

WM: "This Present Darkness."