Coaches often have a player or players on their team with great natural abilities and athletic skill. It is rare to have both physical talent and mental toughness. It is a luxury to have a complete varsity squad of mentally prepared, athletically skilled girls who get along like family. Head coach Laura Moore has all of the above this season with the Timber Creek softball team.
The Lady Falcons are a relatively young team, with six freshmen and only one starting senior. Toward the end of last season, Moore decided that the team needed a new approach.
“At end-of-season evaluations, the consistent thing the girls were telling me was that they wanted more team bonding exercises,” she said. “We heard it over and over so we made it our focus.”
Focusing more on mental preparation and team-building skills, Moore brought in performance consultant Aaron Weintraub, or Coach Traub as he is better known, to teach the team about mental performance.
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“We started taking days out of practice to really work on our team bonding and some of the skills they learned from Coach Traub’s philosophies,” she said. “They have really bought into the training and they are bonding well as a team.”
The philosophies seem to be working. The Lady Falcons are 9-5, with a 15-1 win over Haltom in the district opener. Senior JJ Cerda, a varsity starter since her freshman year, has noticed a marked difference this year.
“The training has definitely opened mine and everyone else’s eyes and has helped a lot,” the second baseman said. “It makes us think twice about what we do on the field and has affected us tremendously.”
One of the benefits to this new training style is the development of team leadership.
“Leaders naturally rise to the top and the other kids tend to follow the leader,” Moore said. “JJ is one of those kids. She is patient with the younger kids and they have really responded to her.”
“We have come a long way since school started,” Cerda said. “When we step on the field I can see some of the other players going back to what we learned, what Coach Traub taught us. That we need to have a plan before we step into the batter’s box or get in the zone on defense.”
Cerda helps keep the team on track.
“With the younger players sometimes I have to make them laugh on rough days or even set them in their place and educate them at the same time,” she said. “My goal is to see that we’ve done better at the end than where we started.”
Freshman catcher Brooke Stutz is thriving under the leadership.
“We all work well together and are like a family,” she said. “When someone gets down we pick them up. We communicate really well with each other.”
Stutz is no stranger to softball, having played select for years, but the Lady Falcons are a different team.
“We have more unity on this team than any other team I’ve played on,” she said. “Before a game we huddle up and pray together, and talk about what we need to do in the game. It really prepares us.”
The training from Coach Traub has also helped her transition to varsity play.
“It really hits home when I get up to bat and I am anxious,” Stutz said. “I know that I am going to make mistakes so it relaxes me and I am confident enough to get my job done for my team.”
While it may not guarantee them a state championship bid, Moore is confident in the new approach.
“What they are learning now will help them the rest of their lives, whether on a physical team or a business team,” she said. ”Last year, they struggled for identity and their place, and this year we have 14 people working as one, trying to go in the same direction.”