Coach's Corner - Meredith McAlister, Severna Park Softball

This summer, CSZ will be doing a segment on the WICKipedia entitled "Coach's Corner". In this feature, we'll be conducting Q&A's with various coaches from around Maryland to learn more about their coaching processes, and why they love coaching.

Today we're featuring Meredith McAlister, the softball head coach at Severna Park High School in Anne Arundel County! Coach McAlister spoke with us about a variety of topics, including why Severna Park was able to win a state championship this season!

Meredith McAlister CC Pic

County Sports Zone:How did you get your start with coaching softball?

Meredith McAlister:After college, I was asked by my old high school coach, Jeff Shepherd, if I would be interested in volunteering, so I did for three or four years. Then he retired and moved to Florida, and Wayne Mook called me to ask if I would be applying.

Wayne had been my coach my freshman year of high school and was the AD at the time. I hadn't thought I was capable of head coaching. In my mind it was always something my dad did, not me. But I thought about it for a few days and decided I would have to work and learn to be as good as Wayne, my dad or Jeff, but that I could be good at it. I wasn't ready to let the game go yet.

CSZ:Why do you coach? What about it do you enjoy?

MM:I love that every day you get to teach kids to love the sport that you love, to learn to be better competitors and individuals, an watch how something as simple as a sports team can change a kid's life. That's pretty cool.

CSZ:Specifically Severna Park- why do you enjoy coaching there?

MM:You know, I hear a lot of politics, but I think you'll find that anywhere. I grew up in Severna Park and I can tell you that Severna Park has plenty to offer. It has a sense of community, parents that support their children and want to help them succeed and grow. Kids learn work ethic, respect for themselves, their families, their school and their community. You find that behind any communication from any parent is typically just a love for their kid, they want what's best for them and they want to be sure they are being given the proper tools to succeed.

Kids just want to belong, to feel supported and sometimes for us to believe in them even when they don't believe in themselves. I try not to take that responsibility lightly. I think that can be seen throughout Severna Park, and throughout the whole of Anne Arundel County, too.

CSZ:What're some characteristics of teams that are coached by you? What do you try to instill in your players?

MM:They have to decide to support each other on and off the field, recognize they are part of something bigger than themselves and respect that responsibility. They must be involved in the community around them and lift up those who need help and work hard for the things that they want. They can't be afraid to fail because with that they can learn and grow, take care of themselves, their equipment, and learn to build respect into everything that they do.

CSZ:It ended up being a tremendous season for Severna Park's softball program, winning its first state title since 2003. Why was this group able to do so well?

MM:They were not afraid to fail, they believed in each other and themselves, and they understood the expectations of the team and how that applied on and off the field. Therefore, they knew their roles and responsibilities.

Those who held the smallest of roles were held with the highest esteem when they performed to expectations. They were supported and celebrated for their successes as much as those who held the biggest roles. That kind of environment allows everyone to exceed expectations, makes everyone want to show up and work, and creates success that is hard to stop.

CSZ:Before this season, Severna Park had enjoyed a few excellent campaigns recently that ended earlier than expected in the postseason. Did going through that make winning this state championship a more satisfying experience for you and your team?

MM:For the older girls on the team, it meant they were able to accomplish something they'd worked toward for years. It's the culmination of not just this team's efforts but of the efforts of their teammates who came before them.

That's why we had so many alumni supporting us throughout the journey, they know they were a factor in creating that success along the way. Though they aren't recognized by a medal or a trophy, they understand their impact was just as important. You've heard the saying, "Plants trees you'll never see." You don't work for the reward, you work to leave something better than when you started. That's how you build a legacy.

June 29th, 2018By: Wick Eisenberg

County Sports Zone provides the schedules, scores and standings for 208 public high schools across Maryland, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
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