What It's Like For Lauren Haeger To Coach Travel Ball
Lauren Haeger is a Florida Gator great who was dominant in the circle and at the plate during her time in college. At Florida, she racked up a ton of accolades, including 2015 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, 2015 SEC Female Athlete of the Year and 2015 WCWS Most Outstanding Player.
Haeger has since transitioned into the world of travel ball coaching. Softball America caught up with her about how she’s evolved from a star player to a youth softball coach. Read below to learn about how she has discovered her coaching style as well as advice for travel ball coaches and prospects working to get to the next level.
Softball America: After you were done playing professionally, what did you do?
Lauren Haeger: I moved to Charlotte and I started giving lessons full-time. I was here for about six months to a year when Kevin Hinde, the head coach of Team NC-Hinde, asked me if I had any interest in coaching travel ball. I said, “yes!”
SA: Did you always know you wanted to coach?
LH: I don’t necessarily think that was always my dream after I got done playing, but when you play professional softball, you have to have a job where you can leave for an entire summer to go play. So lessons were a good option for me. I started giving lessons in Massachusetts. I learned a lot there and felt like I could see myself doing this. Being a private instructor has been amazing.
SA: After returning to the world of travel ball and observing recruits, what do you wish prospects would do more of and what do you wish they would do less of?
LH: I wish prospects would do more research on the people who actually want them and not just look at a name and say yes or no right away. If someone wants you, explore that. You always want to make sure you’re going somewhere where you feel wanted, even if it wasn’t the original D1 route that you wanted.
Do less worrying about when your name comes out with where you’re going to school. I wish they would worry less about what other people think about their recruiting process.
SA: What is the hardest part of coaching?
LH: Something that I’ve been trying to work on is making sure the girls relate to me, but I don’t want to make them feel that they have to have the same pathway as me. It’s challenging to navigate all the paths because all of the girls have different ones.
SA: What about coaching do you love the most?
LH: I love the relationships you build with athletes and their families. I love seeing a lightbulb go on for something they’ve been trying to work on forever. I love to try to teach competitiveness. I love what I do because it helps prepare the girls for the next level, and the people who really buy into that see a lot of success and it’s really fun to see.
SA: What advice would you give to other travel ball coaches out there?
LH: Always remember why you do it. I have to constantly remind myself to be aware that every choice you make as a coach has a few ways it can affect a kid.
SA: You’ve been vocal about some of the downsides of travel softball today. What are some things you’d like to see change?
LH: I want people to be more honest and kind. Coaches should not be giving false promises to kids. We need more coaches who do what they say they are going to do. I think players need to be told exactly how and how often their coach plans on involving them on the field so the family can make the best decision for them and their daughter.
Another thing that really makes me upset is when travel ball coaches raise their voices to their girls on the field. I don’t think that is an effective way to help your players. Embarrassing kids by shouting at them or pulling them out of the game mid-inning while college coaches are watching does no good.