SCA trains leaders via softball

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Suffolk Christian Academy junior Kelly Lester, middle, coaches junior varsity, shouting directions as the batter advances in the foreground and sophomore Brianna Farrenkopf runs for home.

Suffolk Christian Academy junior Kelly Lester, middle, coaches junior varsity, shouting directions as the batter advances in the foreground and sophomore Brianna Farrenkopf runs for home.

A lot of young people dream about what they would do if they were the boss or the teacher or the coach.

Suffolk Christian Academy upperclassmen softball players Caitlin Hankins and Kelly Lester don’t have to dream. Varsity head coach Robert Lester has given them the opportunity to coach the junior varsity team in both of its games so far this season.

Suffolk Christian Academy senior softball player Caitlin Hankins encourages her players while coaching the school's junior varsity team on Tuesday.

Suffolk Christian Academy senior softball player Caitlin Hankins encourages her players while coaching the school’s junior varsity team on Tuesday.

He said he talked to SCA’s athletic director, Steven Milner, at the beginning of the season to tell him of the plan.

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“That way, the girls would get some leadership experience,” Lester said, plus it would enhance the degree to which the younger girls on the varsity team look up to Hankins and Kelly Lester, who are team captains.

Things have been good so far for the JV Lady Knights under the direction of Coach Hankins and Coach Lester. The team trounced visiting Portsmouth Christian School on Tuesday 19-2, after also recording a 19-5 road victory over the JV Lady Patriots on March 28.

Hankins, a senior, said she thinks her new job as coach is “really fun, and I think it’s cool that we can be their kind of mentors.” She noted that while they are similar to their players in age, she and Lester can give them tips because they have more experience.

“It’s pretty fun, because you get to see things from a different perspective,” said Kelly Lester, a junior.

She also noted the challenges. Her father, Coach Lester, is present for the JV games, and while he gives bits of advice, he does not try to do things for the girls.

“It’s been kind of difficult, because he’s really left it up to us,” his daughter said.

Robert Lester also hopes this experience will help them know where he is coming from when he makes decisions on varsity.

The girls’ coaching responsibilities start with composing a starting lineup, which Coach Lester said they do well.

“It’s difficult to plan it out because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you want to have the best team you can possibly have on the field at the time that you need them,” Kelly Lester said.

Several of the players on the JV team also play on varsity.

“I can imagine it would be a little bit hard with them because you’re playing one day with them, and you’re coaching them the next day,” Robert Lester said.

This has not proven to be an issue, though.

“They treat us like a coach when we’re coaching them,” Hankins said.

“I think they actually enjoy it some, because they get to have different coaches,” Kelly Lester said.

In addition to picking the lineup and making appropriate substitutions, the girls coach bases.

“You really have to know each player and what their strengths are,” Kelly Lester said.

Based on this knowledge, they give signals for hitters to bunt, to steal, to hit and run, and more.

“Yesterday a couple of times, Kelly had to go out and talk to the defense,” Robert Lester said on Wednesday.

“They were just kind of getting down on themselves,” Kelly Lester said, since the inning was going on a bit long. So, she called time to help them calm down, talk it out and decide what they needed to do.

The young coaches have already taken lessons away from their experience.

“I’ve learned that it’s not as easy as it looks to be the coach, that it is a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun,” Lester said.

“I think I’ve learned how to just be a mentor to younger kids,” Hankins said. “Anything you do, someone’s watching you.”