A Change in the Lineup

Varsity softball hires head Coach Ashton McBride, sending Coach Mitchell Clark to tennis

For the past 10 years, former Varsity Softball Head Coach Mitchell Clark has coached various sports for Middle and Upper School Hockadaisies: volleyball, field hockey, basketball, track and softball. This year, there was a ‘change in the line-up,’ and Clark has traded his mitt for a tennis racquet.

Sporting her blue and red Rawlings softball mitt, the ‘new line-up’ for softball features recently-hired Ashton McBride, the current Head Coach of the Varsity Softball team.

This year, Hockaday designated three coaches, Clark, McBride and Marni Holben, to coach two softball teams, but filled the roster for only one team. For administrative and management purposes, Clark (who has coached softball for the past six years) switched to tennis to assist the solitary Varsity Tennis Coach Carol Thumlert.

Clark has played tennis but never coached the sport until this year. He views Thumlert as “a great mentor and kind of like a Zen master of tennis.”

Clark has big plans for the Hockaday Varsity Tennis Team; he aims to continue to develop his tennis players and make them as consistent as possible. But also, he would like Hockaday, winners of SPC for the past two years, to triumph once more.

Freshman Holly, a Varsity Tennis player, considers that Clark gives “continual encouragement and a confidence in us [the players]” while “bringing a lot of energy to practice.”

Like Coach Clark, Coach McBride has been thrust into a new situation at Hockaday.

Though McBride privately coaches softball students and works as a Texas Rangers Ball Girl by warming up outfielders, most notably Josh Hamilton, she didn’t know of Hockaday until one of her coaches at Cameron University with a connection to Hockaday encouraged McBride to pursue the coaching position, she applied and was hired as Head Coach.

At the beginning of tryouts this year, McBride thought the players “needed some work” and would have to relearn the basic mechanics of hitting and throwing. When practice began, however, she was “mildly surprised” in a positive way with the players’ aptitude and their overall softball skills.

She did not have to go over all the basics after all.

Junior Mackenzie, Outfielder on the Varsity Softball team, says Coach McBride is always helpful and very encouraging. Whenever McBride has advice, she immediately tells her players so they can apply it on the next swing or throw.

Since more than half of the Varsity Softball Team is comprised of freshmen and sophomores, McBride believes that “by senior year, [the team] should be very strong.”

But right now, Coach McBride has plans to have fun and continue to improve each player’s skills in every aspect of softball.

Mackenzie believes that “with Coach McBride’s coaching, the team has gained so much confidence and skill that has really helped us progress throughout the season so far.”