STEENS — Robin Cochran is ready to get the word out.
To do it, she is willing to comb the halls of Columbus Christian Academy in an effort to find students who are interested in being a part of the school’s first fast-pitch softball team.
“The challenge now is getting players,” Cochran said. “I think there are some who might play, but the challenge is there has never been a fast-pitch softball team. I think there may be some girls who are a little timid to come out and give it a shot.”
Two days in, Cochran and assistant coach Ashley Dale have had seven newcomers to the sport. Cochran acknowledges she and the players are learning as they go. She said she is encouraged by the fact that all of the players — who range from eighth-graders to one senior — appear to be willing to work hard.
“We are going to try to make it fun, as fun as you can be when you’re trying to still have some authority,” Cochran said. “We’re trying to make it something they enjoy coming to.”
Cochran will be an elementary physical education teacher at Columbus Christian. A graduate of Maryville High School and Maryville College (2005) in Maryville, Tennessee, Cochran played basketball in high school.
Cochran was familiar with the school because she worked as a substitute teacher a couple of times in the fall. A former teacher in Huntsville, Alabama, Cochran is excited to learn a lot about fast-pitch softball and to build enthusiasm for another sport at the school. Last year, she worked as an assistant teacher at Cook Elementary School in Columbus. She also has worked as a contemporary worship leader at her church in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I was excited for a new challenge to be able to bring up our own team and start from scratch,” said Cochran, who taught for seven years in Huntsville. “Expectations will be that we’re going to work really hard and see what happens.”
Cochran said she loved practice and enjoyed working hard. She hopes she and Dale will be able to foster a similar atmosphere so the players like what they’re doing. She also hopes the players who attended the first two practices help spread to word to their friends to get more players out.
Cochran said the school has received plenty of help from volunteers to improve the field the school’s slow-pitch softball team has used. She said she isn’t sure how many games the team will play this season, or how many players will come out for the team and stick with it. She hopes to have more than nine so the team can continue to play if someone gets injured.
“We’re all in a learning situation,” Cochran said. “There will be some stuff I learn from the rule books, but a lot of it I will just learn from going, ‘Oh, I did that wrong.’ ”
Dale, who is an emergency room nurse at Baptist Memorial Church in Columbus, will serve as an assistant coach. She played softball (left field) at Sylva-Bay Academy in Bay Springs, and went to school at Mississippi University for Women.
Dale said she met Cochran at church. She also said their sons are in day care together, which adds to the connection they have built and hope to strengthen as first-year coaches a Columbus Christian.
“It is the same as any sport. It is just being dedicated to the sport you’re doing and you’re giving it all you have got while you’re out there,” Dale said.
Dale and Cochran said they have stressed commitment at the first two practices. They acknowledge the first-year players have a lot to learn and that they might not a have a feel for the sport, but Cochran said she noticed an improvement from the first day to the second day.
Cochran said she is willing to go through the ups and downs with a young team, but she wants to make sure the players give their all and work hard to get better.
“What we expect from them is their best effort,” Cochran said. “What they can expect from me is my best effort. I am going to work hard to be the smartest (coach) and make the best decisions that a book can teach me about being a softball coach. I am going to work hard to make sure I am giving my best effort, so that is what we expect from them, too.”
Last school year, Columbus Christian started a boys soccer team to go with its girls soccer program. Rick Michaels coached the program, which played an abbreviated schedule.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.