Chelsea Spencer Is Ready To Lead New Era Of Cal Softball
Chelsea Spencer pulled up a plastic bucket and placed it beside her coach, Diane Ninemire. Spencer, an All-American and national champion during her collegiate playing career at Cal, used that time next to Ninemire to learn. The subject at hand? The lineup card.
The formula of balancing and manipulating the lineup to get the best possible result set Spencer on a path to coaching. The road has now led her to become Ninemire’s replacement at Cal after the longtime coach stepped down after 32 seasons at the helm earlier this year.
“I knew my whole life I wanted to be a coach,” Spencer told Softball America in a phone interview. “I used to sit down with my travel ball coach all the time after games...We’d have a coaches corner and talk about the game. I’ve always been interested in the inner workings of a program.”
Spencer, a first-time head coach, hopes she can translate those dugout bucket classroom sessions into a Golden Bear team that Ninemire would appreciate.
“I want her to know that her legacy lives on through us all,” Spencer said. “I want to be the person that continues what she built. She’s taught me so much through my tenure at Cal. As a coach I’ve asked her so many questions and picked her brain so many times throughout my coaching career. I just want to make sure this program has her stamp of approval.”
In 2011, Spencer began her coaching career at the Division I level as an assistant at Michigan State. She later joined Mike White’s staff at Oregon in 2013 and followed him to Texas where she was an assistant before accepting the position at Cal.
Those eight years under White weren’t easy for Spencer, she says, but they made her a better coach. She believes she learned from the best, and as she left her office at Texas one last time, she was filled with emotion.
“I think he’s the best coach out there in terms of understanding what it takes to win,” said Spencer of White. “Hard work, dedication, relating to players, getting them up to his standard and his expectations and core values. It’s fun, fantastic, hard, all at the same time. I’m going to miss him.”
One of Spencer’s goals is to bring her own set of values to the Cal program. In an American society that is currently headlined by social justice, Spencer wants her team to know that they have the power to make change and succeed at anything in life.
“I want to build strong women as leaders in the community that can go on and be powerful women,” Spencer said. “It’s really important to me to empower women to their next chapter of life...What I love about Berkeley is they always teach you to question the norm. It’s really important in this day and age to build leaders that understand life and want change.”
There was interest in other head coaching positions for Spencer, but it needed to be the right fit. She wanted the West Coast, since it is near her family, and she wanted the Pac-12, the best conference in college softball, in her opinion.
Cal had all the pieces that fit her needs, and Spencer couldn’t think of a better destination for herself now that it’s time to lay her foundation.
“It’s a dream come true, but it doesn’t stop here,” Spencer said. “This is the beginning of a new era. It’s going to take hard work and dedication to make this program what I think it can be.”