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Morgan Howe Sees Softball's Other Side As Graduate Manager

(Photo by Brady Vernon)

Morgan Howe was a West Coast woman.

The California native spent her college tenure at Fresno State and Arizona State. After her All-American senior season with the Sun Devils, Howe made quite the life change. She picked up her stuff and headed to Florida to become a graduate student manager under head coach Tim Walton and his staff. 

Howe, who has a very sociable personality, had to adjust to life in a new area without her usual friends, family and home. 

“My life has changed pretty significantly having to move across the country,” Howe told Softball America. “I have never been this far from home for this long period of time and it has really taught me how to be independent and has challenged me to learn how to get comfortable being alone.

“It’s still a process I’m learning, but I’ve definitely grown a better sense of self and independence having moved across the country.” 

The experience at Florida was giving her everything she wanted from it. She was seeing another side to the way softball is taught at one of the best programs in the nation. 

“I came to learn and expand my knowledge of the game and different philosophies behind the art of hitting as well as the entire game itself,” Howe said. “In this experience I’ve been able to network myself and build relationships with a lot of different people, which is amazing when trying to learn all you can about this side of the game.”

Everything was going well for Howe with the Gators. She was seeing Florida's team transform after graduating stars Amanda Lorenz and Kelly Barnhill last season to become an all-around team ranked in the top 10 this season. 

Then, as it did for everyone in sports, the news came. Howe said at practice on March 12, Walton decided to sit down his players and staff to let everyone know the season had been suspended until March 30 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Gators later learned that their season had been canceled.

“That’s when it all set in for me and made me realize this was real,” Howe said. “My reaction then was really sad for the girls. I didn’t expect to cry, but I did, and it was out of heartache for the girls, especially the seniors. I then started thinking about all the other seniors, especially the girls at Arizona State and how sad I was for them.”

The swirling emotions from Howe turned from shock and sadness to hope as she processed everything. 

“While packing up my things at the field, the thoughts in my mind went from sadness to more so understanding that I knew the NCAA was doing this for a reason for all winter and spring sports,” Howe said. “They wouldn’t be making this decision if the situation around the world wasn’t as serious as it is.”

The season didn’t go as planned, but that didn’t stop Howe from being grateful for what she took from it. 

“In such a short amount of time I’ve been able to compare and see the differences in how successful programs can be run,” Howe said. “I’ve learned a lot of different types of hitting drills and philosophies. I’ve learned a lot of different defensive situational scenarios and how to execute them. I’ve seen different approaches to a variety of players or attitudes of players and different approaches to dealing with adversity.

“I’ve been able to compare what I’ve experienced on the playing side at one program to what I’m seeing and learning from a different angle at another program and it’s been really awesome to see how vastly different two programs' processes are to achieve the same goal and have similar success.”

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