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What It Was Like For Zaria Hall To Go From Player To Coach

zaria hall photo by josh padilla.jpg
(Photo by Josh Padilla)

It is a huge step when student-athletes transition from being a player to becoming a coach. And it is not easy to change a routine of playing on the field every day to coaching from the dugout. But Zaria Hall did just that.

Hall spent her collegiate softball playing career at Howard University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, also known as FAMU, before becoming an assistant coach for FAMU.

Softball America had the chance to speak with Hall about her time as a college softball player, transition to being a coach and more. Read below for the full interview.

Softball America: What was your experience like as a college softball player?

Zaria Hall: As an athlete at Howard University and Florida A&M University, I encountered two very different experiences. At Howard, I was a young athlete, eager to start playing college ball, but was plagued by injuries. At Florida A&M, I came in as an experienced grad student wanting to end her college career the way she wanted to. However, it didn’t really go as planned due to COVID-19 protocols and other unforeseen circumstances. Overall, both experiences made me who I am, and gave me the knowledge and confidence to be a coach, while mentoring other softball players.

SA: What led you to want to be a college softball assistant coach?

ZH: I grew up playing softball and seemed to continuously gain knowledge about the sport. I also knew I still wanted to be involved in sports and softball after my career as an athlete. I felt that accepting the coaching position would give me the firsthand experience needed to see if I really wanted to pursue it as a full-time career.

SA: How did you become an assistant coach at FAMU?

ZH: At FAMU, the coaches saw my interest in wanting to be involved on the other side of the game in terms of coaching and facility and event management. So, for my sports management graduate program internship, I decided to work with the team and assist the program throughout the fall semester. I assisted with coaching, created itineraries, made phone calls and pretty much assisted with anything else that needed to be done in regards to FAMU softball. Once the internship was complete, I graduated with my master's, and the coaches offered me the job of assistant coach.

SA: What was it like to transition from being a player to an assistant coach?

ZH: Coaching was a hard transition for me due to the fact that I still wasn’t all the way confident in what I knew as a player. I didn’t know how to translate it as a coach. It was also hard because the girls were just my teammates last season, and it felt awkward being in that leadership role (pretty soon) after meeting them.

SA: What did you learn from your first season as an assistant coach?

ZH: As an assistant coach, I learned to trust the process and to not overthink my experiences. I took it one day at a time and continued to grow.

SA: Did you experience any challenges as a first-year assistant coach?

ZH: (The) challenges were overcoming my own self doubt and trusting within the coaches around me, as well as knowing that they believed in me and had given me the opportunity for a reason.

SA: What was the hardest thing you experienced as a first-year assistant coach?

ZH: Because the staff at FAMU was very helpful, honestly, the only hard thing about (the experience was) trusting my own process and being confident in my own abilities.

SA: Did you always want to get into coaching?

ZH: No, the concept of being a coach is fairly new to me. I actually grew up my whole life not wanting to be a coach. So, the opportunity kind of fell in my lap and I just decided to take advantage of it because I wanted to see if I could fill in the gaps of being the type of coach that I never had.

SA: What advice would you give to a college player who is looking to become an assistant coach after her playing days are done?

ZH: I would tell them to take full advantage of the opportunity. Not everyone has the opportunity to coach softball after college, so I would tell them to go out on a limb and see if they like it. It’s not going to hurt you, it’s only going to make you better.

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