Captain's Corner: The Heartfelt Words of a Head Coach
By head coach Lisa Navas
RALEIGH, N.C. - Senior weekend. As Sunday approached, I knew that it was a day I had been dreading all year. I couldn't believe that these nine young ladies who took a chance on me five years ago were leaving. Brandon Yopp, our sports information director, wrote a nice tribute to the kids, which put me off the hook to speak prior to the North Carolina game on Sunday.
We took the time to honor the seniors from North Carolina with a rose, which was very special to me. I have known five of their six seniors since summer camps early in their careers.
I had some special canvases made up by Buster Designs for each of our players. They had been sitting in the equipment room since February. I think the kids really enjoyed them. The canvases had a personalized action photo and design for the corresponding senior. Before the game I told them they that were getting a portrait of me, but I don't think they bought that.
Another special game occurred we won 2-0 for the sweep of the series. I was so proud of the kids, especially our unsung heroes like Shanna Smith, Miranda Ervin and Krystal Hawkins. Unsung heroes have come at several times throughout the season and, unfortunately, they don’t always get the credit that they deserve. The day before it was Heather Gelbard, Megan Dalthorp, Beth Poore, Allison Presnell and Kristine Bechtholdt. All year long different kids have stepped up in different situations and that is what a championship team is all about.
After the final game we had our annual pig picking at the Mangum's house in Fuquay-Varina. Now I knew I was in trouble because I had to speak. This really was something that I have done in my mind 100 times and it’s always made tear up. So I guess it is true, how you practice is how you perform.
My father gave the prayer prior to everyone eating. He spoke very eloquently, as he always does, and he even got applause for the prayer, which was a first for him. I made everyone aware that I was not an adopted child!
The food was wonderful as always, except Bean [Kristine Bechtholdt] took the last deviled egg! I will get her for that one! At least I got my special baked beans, made by our No. 1 fans Donald and Melanie Mangum.
Speaking of fans, you would think 21 players and parents would be all we had, but multiply that out a few times and you have our immediate fan base. This group has been our 11th player (since we use the DP in our games). The support that they have shown for us has been tremendous.
Eventually the time came for me to speak after Mac [Mackenzie Mangum] handed out some special bats that were made up for the seniors. As all the ladies stood up there it was my time to speak ... and I just lost it! I couldn't get the words out because so much emotion came rushing through me. Although they don't think I have a heart at times, I made them cry too!
This is what I was trying to say ...
I want to thank the nine young ladies that took a chance on NC State and me five years ago. It wasn't about the scholarship, but the dream of building something special. I love each and every one of you for taking that chance and making this program successful by just walking on the field.
As for the parents, a very special thank you for supporting us no matter where we were. From California to Florida, we had parents and fans everywhere. Thank you for being there.
I know that we are not done yet, but I want all of you to know that each of you has a very special place in my heart. You should all be proud of what you have accomplished here at NC State, and I hope that you always treasure the memories that we have enjoyed together, because I know that I certainly will.
Throughout the 2007 season, Wolfpack captains Jen Chamberlin, Shaina Ervin and Abbie Sims will keep fans up to speed on the latest happenings of NC State softball via the Captain’s Corner blog on GoPack.com. Stay tuned to GoPack.com for the latest news and information on Wolfpack softball.