PICTURED ABOVE: Sharing a laugh with senior catcher Trinity Naile, Coach Shahrestani guides her team through a series of footwork drills in the middle of a preseason practice on Feb. 6th. This practice will be the last for Shahrestani for a month as she spends time with her newborn son, Hudson Pierce, who was born Feb. 8. In her absence, Hockaday parent David Stringfield will serve as the Interim Varsity Softball Coach.
Saying that Hockaday Varsity Softball Coach Kate Shahrestani hits a home run in all aspects of her life is an understatement—she balances a full-time career, coaching a varsity sport and manages a growing family. Shahrestani is returning to Hockaday without a formal maternity leave despite her already-full schedule and the upcoming addition of a newborn baby
The softball season starts in early February, around the same time Shahrestani is expecting her firstborn son. Shahrestani plans to stay involved with the team remotely and return to full-time coaching after three to four weeks.
“Of course, especially since this is my first child, the baby and my family are my priority. But my intentions are to return to Hockaday as soon as possible. With the season starting around the time of the birth, there will be some unknowns, but I do plan to come back as soon as possible,” Shahrestani said.
Shahrestani has been playing softball competitively since she was about six years old. She furthered her athletic career into the collegiate level when she played softball at Yale University. She coached a competitive team in New Haven, Connecticut during college and later coached a volunteer team in Harlem, New York when she worked on Wall Street.
After working on Wall Street for about a decade, Shahrestani moved to Dallas to start Athena Search Partners, a company which caters to Wall Street. Shortly after her move to Texas, Shahrestani sought to find an outlet for her love for softball, leading her to Hockaday.
Shahrestani has worked at Hockaday since the spring of 2016 when she coached Middle School softball alongside coach Victor Torres. The following year she was promoted to head varsity coach and adores working with the high school girls.
“I’ve had the benefit of coaching many of the young ladies at the Middle School level, and as they transitioned to varsity. It’s been so special to see them grow into upperclassmen and into the team leaders,” Shahrestani said.
Since Shahrestani started working with Hockaday, Hockaday’s softball team has qualified to play at the Southwestern Preparatory Conference, a tournament which Hockaday softball had not previously attended for many years.
Shahrestani, however, recognizes that the positive changes to Hockaday’s softball program have been made by the players.
“Since I’ve arrived, the changes that have been made have been led by the players. I have seen an increase in interest and passion to win, and I do give the credit to the leaders of the team,” Shahrestani said. “Many of the girls are passionate about the sport and hard-working, and they lead by example. Their example trickles down to the less experienced players who benefit from their hard work and dedication.”
The entire softball community at Hockaday loves “Coach Kate” and plans to help her once she’s had her baby. For example, the softball players threw her a baby shower, and a Hockaday parent, David Stringfield, who has a daughter on the team, agreed to take the role of Interim Head Coach in her absence.
“Coach Kate loves being with the girls, and the girls love playing for her and learning from her. So I thought, ‘What if I fill in for three to four weeks when Coach Kate has the baby?’ It’s her team. She and Coach Torres work together so well, and I am just a bandaid to help while she’s out,” David Stringfield said.
David Stringfield intends to coach the team just as Coach Kate would and recognizes her significance to the Hockaday softball program.
“She has brought life into the program. Coach Kate gets it. She makes everything fun. She brings excitement to the game,” David Stringfield said.
Shahrestani recognizes the importance of the softball community at Hockaday and is thankful for the help she’s received regarding her growing family.
“The strength that I have felt and received and support from my players and parents is truly breathtaking. I am extremely appreciative and know that the Hockaday softball community would not exist without them,” Shahrestani said. I run a company focused on Wall Street recruiting, and while the easiest path would have been to sit the season out and potentially be replaced as the coach, I didn’t think that was the right example to set for the strong, young women of Hockaday.”
Shahrestani further commented on her appreciation for the team parents and how they shape the Hockaday community.
“The Hockaday softball moms are some of the most impressive role models I’ve met anywhere, so it was important to me to carry their torch in conveying a young woman is capable of doing it all, running a company and having a baby, coaching a team and serving the community,” Shahrestani said. “And thanks to the support of the Hockaday softball parents, particularly Coach Stringfield, I am able maintain the standard set by my Hockaday softball parents.”
The softball team equally loves Shahrestani and is very excited about her new baby and quick return. Junior Madison Stringfield, the pitcher for the Hockaday team and commit to Rhodes College for softball, is equally excited about Shahrestani’s comeback. Stringfield reflected on Coach Kate’s understanding and help throughout her process.
“Coach Kate just understands what it’s like to be in our shoes. She understands what it’s like to be in a place with academic rigor, she gets the recruitment process, and she gets how it feels to love the game. She’s really been a great help for me,” Madison Stringfield said.
When thinking about recruitment and life after high school in general, Shahrestani loves relating her own experience to helping her players think about their own journeys and time management.
“It is so exciting to watch the upperclassmen who are thinking about life and becoming young adults. It’s contagious, exciting, and I have so much hope for you all,” Shahrestani said. “You are in the driver’s seat, and as long as you have the support in all aspects of your life, you can accomplish anything.”
Story by Eliana Goodman, Magazine Editor
Photo by Charlotte Dross