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Fastpitch Coach: Q&A

Number of years in this position: 17 years as head coach.

Overall won-lost record at present position: 194-165-1.

Previous Softball Head or assistant softball coaching positions: Four years assistant coach at EAHS.

Other accomplishments: Five times League Division Champion. Twice named Coach of the Year.

Undergraduate Alma Mater and year graduated: West Chester State University (1973).

Softball playing career highlights: I played slow pitch at the A and Major level for over 20 years. 1980 Pennsylvania Class A State Champion, 1987 Pennsylvania Over 35 State Champion.

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

EM: 1979. I had been assistant baseball coach. The softball coaching position opened up and I applied. I was named assistant softball coach and four years later I was named the head coach. I enjoyed the girls' desire to learn.

Q: Who are some of the people you learned the most from and what did you learn?

EM: My father. He taught me the importance of the little things and gave me my basics.

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

EM: Utilize my assistant coaches.

Q: If there is one rule or procedure you would like to see your state association or the national federation adopt, what would it be?

EM: Get rid of the uniform rule for coaches.

Q: What makes for a successful season?

EM: Seeing your team grow as the season progresses.

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

EM: The 1996 season. We returned a good team and were picked to finish fifth in our league, but found out before the season began that our two top players would not be members of the team. One player left softball to pursue a track career (she is now a member of the Penn State softball team) and the other, my oldest daughter and the best returning pitcher in the league, had an injury which required surgery. A third player was battling anorexia and had lost nearly twenty-five pounds between seasons. Graduation had left us with some important holes to fill as is the norm. We ended up going with a ninth-grade battery, three sophomores and two new upper class starters. We endured all these obstacles and tied with the best record in our league. The coaching staff and players really rallied around our ninth grade pitcher (my youngest daughter), helping her set a league record for wins in a single season with 14. I can't say that I coached any better that year than some others but it was the season in which our entire program pulled for one another more than any other team I had been involved with.

Q: What was your greatest moment as a coach?

EM: I had the great pleasure to coach some fine players and have had a number of bright moments, but when you have a chance to coach your own children it can be indescribable the emotional strain you endure. All eyes are on how you handle the situation and how your children handle the situation. I was very fortunate to have coached both my daughters. The greatest moment as a coach involved both of them. We were tied in the bottom of the sixth inning with one out when I sent my youngest daughter, who was pitching but not hitting, to the plate as a pinch-hitter. She singled. The next batter also singled to put runners on first and third. I then sent my oldest daughter, who had just that day been released by her surgeon, to pinch hit. It had been twenty-two days since she last swung a bat. After a stolen base put runners on second and third, she singled to drive in her sister with what proved to be the winning run. Sending two pinch-hitters up late in the game and having them come through really makes you feel great as a coach. When those pinch-hitters are your daughters, well, you can't imagine how I felt.

Q: What was your worst moment as a coach?

EM: Losing in the district semifinals 2-1 in 1998. We lost to the eventual Pennsylvania state champions, Parkland. We had beaten them once, their only loss of the season.

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

EM: We took a southern trip in March of 1998 to Charlotte, NC. We played three games while in Charlotte, but the most memorable part of the trip was the hospitality of the folks from Independence High School. They allowed us to use their field to practice during the day and when it came time to play our game, it was a well-played 10-inning affair. When the game was over, the Independence parents hosted an ice cream sundae party for both teams. We stayed for nearly an hour after game, talking. It was a great experience.

Q: How has the game changed since you first became involved?

EM: The level of play has grown tremendously. The players work more on their games than say ten years ago. Technology has helped a great deal also. The lightweight bats have helped the hitters cut down on the number of strikeouts and made the game more enjoyable. The lighter bats have also caused pitchers to pitch, not just throw fast, and defense to play better, not just rely on a pitcher.

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?

EM: I played slow pitch and know what the combination of polycore balls and high tech bats have done. I dislike polycore balls for high school play. I think the risks involved with the combination of polycore ball and high tech bats outweigh the benefits of producing more offense. I think the high tech bats with cork center balls with high seams is a good combination. The lightweight high tech bats have gone far enough. I would like to see us stay where we are today and not end up getting "teched out."

Q: What do you love most about coaching?

EM: Being part of the grown process of my players.

Q: What do you love least about coaching?

EM: Cutting players.

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

EM:...grow from the experience of being part of our softball program.

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

EM: Eileen Schmidt, Allentown Central Catholic, Allentown, PA. She dominated the game as a pitcher and a hitter. She went on to play at Virginia as a catcher. She also was invited to the Olympic tryouts.

Q: Which is the best team you've ever coached against and why?

EM: 1998 Parkland High School. They were state champions in what was to be a rebuilding year. They improved a great deal during the season, losing only once (to us, 3-2).

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world for a week, all expenses paid, where would you go?

EM: Ireland.

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

EM: Play golf at Augusta National and coach in college.

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

EM: Don't become a "star" coach. Try to make every player feel important. Always remember, it's what you learn after you know it all that counts!

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

EM: Coaching baseball.

Q: Who is your favorite movie star?

EM: Tom Hanks.

Q: What is your favorite television show?

EM: Friends.

Q: What is your favorite song?

EM: Mambo Number 5.

Q: Your favorite food?

EM: Steak.

Q: When "The One Great Scorer comes to write against your name", what would you like to see written there?

EM: "He did his job and enjoyed it."