If your team is on a roll, the softball season won’t be over until mid-May. Every coach hopes to still be taking to the practice field each Monday through Wednesday and getting on the road for a playoff series later in the week.
But when the season does conclude and the school year is over, don’t plan on getting a vacation started any time soon.
Or for much of the summer.
The term “off-season” is a bit of a misnomer for softball coaches like Timberview’s Donya Mooney.
The fact is – and so it goes for most any coach – there’s always work to be done, most any time of the year.
“I try to take off after school,” Mooney said, “but we have camps just the first week after school.”
OK, so maybe after the planning, basketball camp activities and a bit of wrap-up, there may be an opportunity to have some time for yourself and family.
Even before the end of the school year, though, Mooney is advising her athletes on what they should focus on for the summer, or if she feels they may need more rest, based on each girl’s personal goals.
The seemingly endless seasons of select leagues begin immediately, and coaches such as Mooney can’t break the ties of “my girls” and their constant tournaments, games and other activities.
“I like to catch the end of the kids’ select season and keep up with them,” Mooney said. “I try to see each one at least a couple of times during the summer. It means a lot to the kids to see you there, whether or not they even play. It gives them more incentive because someone’s watching.”
When Lady Wolves players play locally or not too far out of town, Mooney tries to take in a game or two. If she’s lucky, some of her girls will be playing for different teams which end up at the same tournament.
“We check on each other and talk,” Mooney said of keeping up with her players.
The summers continue to get busier, as more and more Timberview softballers have gotten involved with select teams over the years.
Mooney said in her first year of coaching, none of her players were competing over the summer. Now, in her seventh year at Timberview, Mooney said there are up to eight girls playing at various levels.
Attending games is also beneficial in other ways.
With 18 district games this year, Mooney said there’s not much of a preseason and it’s good to watch players during the summer.
“You can see incoming freshmen and freshmen that weren’t quite ready for varsity,” she said. “It also is an opportunity to scout the competition, too, as many of the same players compete in for other district teams.
Although most scheduling is tied up neatly by the school year’s end, with coaching changes around the area, Mooney said she sometimes needs to verify games and logistics.
While the athletes use the summer to also focus on conditioning and training, it can’t always happen without the coaches.
Conditioning programs offered for all sports at their respective schools necessitates oversight and administration by coaches from across the spectrum of sports.
The workouts are non-sport specific, as approved by the UIL.
“You may have a softball coach working with a volleyball or soccer coach,” Mooney said. “The worst scenario is having them start the season with an injury,” she said, noting the attention to detail and proper form is of utmost concern for all the conditioning coaches.
The end of summer comes all too soon, and in fact, the Mansfield ISD coaches will gather for their first, unified meeting this week. Volleyball workouts will start long before a school bell sounds.
“It’s evident in the first week who’s been outside and who’s been inside,” Mooney said. “We all start fresh, though, and they have to prove themselves. The tryouts are in January.”
Once the year starts, and prior to the softball season, Mooney said sports such as hers are immediately focused on preseason training and community service.
“We do a lot of community service and different events we’re not able to do during the season, but we benefit greatly from giving back,” Mooney said. “It’s rampant in MISD. The boys are well-known for a reading program,” she said proudly.