Varsity softball gains new coaches mid-season

Robert A. Hall returns to program as assistant coach


Photo courtesy of Yearbook

After changes to the softball staff, junior varsity coach Harold Hale shifted into a head coach position on the varsity team. The new assistant coach is government teacher and former softball coach Robert Hall. The team adjusts to coaching staff changes toward the end of their season.

By Nicole Ash and Brooke Yungfleisch

Former junior varsity softball head coach Harold Hale and OPHS government teacher Robert Hall have rejoined the coaching staff for varsity softball after coaching changes occurred mid-season in March.

Interim varsity head coach Harold Hale explained that he has previously done a decade of coaching in the Oak Park softball program. He commended the varsity team for making the coaching adjustment smoothly and is looking forward to the team’s future next year and beyond.

“Of course we’ll miss the seniors, but next year looks even better. Adjustability is key in softball,” Hale said. “Different umpires see things differently. Players have to adjust. Similarly, coaches see and do things differently. This team has adjusted-as expected-very well to Coach Hall and my different ways of doing things.”

“My prior softball coaching experience consists of 10 years on WAGS [Westlake Agoura Girls’ Softball] and travel ball, plus 10 years at OPHS. I feel great about this year’s team. They’ve been through a lot and persevere. I’m very proud of them,” Hale said.

Assistant coach Hall has also coached for varsity softball in previous years. He explained that mid-season transitions can have their difficulties. Even with the difficulties faced this year he is looking forward to next year.

“I was also a varsity assistant coach from 2006 until 2014,” Hall said. “[Coming in this season] was difficult for all of us to get into things, especially for the girls to get used to the new coaches. I only teach seniors and there are only two seniors on the team out of 14, so I had to get to know the rest of the girls on the team. These girls have done the best they could adjusting to these changes and have performed like champs.”

With the addition of the new coaches to the team, many players have said they noticed a positive change to the team and their practices. Sophomore Grace Heidman explained that the level of play has improved due to better-organized practices.

“We really like [Hale]. He has brought us to a higher standard of playing, along with the assistant coaches. Everything is much more organized and everyone is getting their fair share of work in,” Heidman said. “He’s a lot stricter [than the old coach], but that makes us so much better.”

Senior Julia Diggs also commented on the team’s response to the sudden coaching change.

“The team has adjusted very well to the new coaching,” Diggs said. “I think that the whole vibe of practices and games are so much better and more positive. We all have such a great connection and the coaches always make sure that we are happy and not tearing ourselves down.”

According to the players, the changes made to the practices have benefited the team by creating an inclusive learning atmosphere.

“The girls have a far better relationship with the coaches, as well, so it’s a much better environment,” Heidman said. “There’s a better schedule for defense and offense; [Hale] sets up stations and knows what he is doing, without putting all of the work on the assistant coaches. I like how he is open to suggestions, but actually knows the game very well. It’s working because everyone has really been able to compete on the team.”

Sophomore Taylor Marincic also praised the new coaches and the encouraging environment that they created for the remainder of the season.

“The environment with our new coaches is so much better; they encourage us to do what we are passionate about,” Marincic said. “The girls are so much better bonded with each other and the two new head coaches than we ever were in the past.”

This story was originally published on The Oak Park Talon on May 13, 2019.