EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in a series about first-year spring coaches starting their careers on the sideline but having to delay their debuts due to COVID-19.
When the KHSAA instituted a mandatory dead period for sports in the spring, it didn’t take away from all the work the area’s baseball, softball and track & field coaches had put in.
Trigg County first-year softball coach Ashley Denfip is living that right now.
Denfip said that she’s the most worried about the seniors, but she admitted it’s been a difficult ride.
“As a first-year head coach, this has been hard,” she said. “My girls have been putting work in since October and for them, it’s truly devastating. Last year, we lost several seniors and key players from the roster. This group of seniors had something to prove and had been working so hard to show that on the field.
“As a new head coach I knew there would be challenges, but none as hard as this one. With such a young team, we had really been focusing on improving our hitting mechanics while using our indoor facility. They were really starting to get in a groove and then this happened. It is a disappointment to be in the situation we are in, but it is not something we can control and have to be ready to go when we are released to.”
With this not being the traditional dead period, coaches are still able to communicate with their players.
Denfip said that was really important as a new coach so not only the athletes feel comfortable with her, but she feel comfortable with the athletes and the program.
“We had a brief meeting during school and I just addressed what we knew at that time,” she said. “It has changed several times since that meeting and I have communicated that with them. Our seniors are heartbroken but understand the reality of this serious situation. I have only been with them for a short period, but they bought in and were eager to begin their senior seasons.
“I have talked with each one and sent my gratitude for their welcoming me into the program and for working hard. I have expressed to them that we cannot control this situation, but be hopeful that this will soon be gone and they can enjoy a few games of their senior year. If not, when the time is right and we are able to do something for them we will celebrate their softball careers.”
For now, Denfip said they can only control what they can control.
She said she’s ready to get back on the field.
“We hope that the girls are continuing to work at home and improving their skills. We would hope to get a week or two of practice in before our return, but we are not sure that will be possible. If/when the KHSAA ends this dead period and we return to school, we will get ready to play a few games before the District Tournament starts.”