Maddie Monroe won her share of games from the pitcher’s circle while playing for Calhoun High.
Now, she’ll get to see what the view is like from the dugout.
After wrapping up a stellar college career at Reinhardt in May, Monroe has returned to Calhoun and will be a part of Diane Smith’s staff as an assistant coach for the Lady Jackets softball team this fall.
“This is most definitely an opportunity of a lifetime for me,” said Monroe. “A lot of my teammates at Reinhardt are done with the game (of softball). A lot of them are trying to find jobs and plug in to the real world. I get to come back and continue on (in softball), be on the field and be around the game I love.
“I’m not playing anymore unfortunately, but I have this great opportunity to coach that Coach Smith and a lot of other people in the background are making available for me. I am forever grateful for it.”
Monroe will complete her student teaching at Calhoun Elementary this fall and graduate from Reinhardt with a degree in early childhood education in December.
Monroe finished up her softball playing career with the Lady Eagles in May as she led her team to their third straight appearance in the NAIA Softball Championship where they finished fifth. She said it was a great way to end her career, but still wanted to do more since it was her last shot.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve replayed those last few games in my head since then,” said Monroe. “Ever since my freshman year, my goal was to make it to nationals. Then once we made, I wanted to win.
“For my senior year, I had so much joy being there again. It was heartbreaking to lose and it took a few weeks to get over, but I know that at this point in my life, one door closing as a player and another is opening as a coach.”
Monroe finished her Reinhardt career with 89 wins, a 1.22 ERA and 792 strikeouts as she won four straight Appalachian Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Awards.
Smith, who won her 500th career game as Calhoun head coach combined between slow pitch and fast pitch softball last fall, said she is looking forward to having Monroe around for several reasons.
“Maddie is a very positive person, and I am excited to have her on my staff this year,” said Smith. “The girls know that she’s been where they are and then went on to play at the next level so I think that will help her greatly in her ability to get her points across to them.”
Monroe said her experience helping with Calhoun softball camp, which she’s done for six years, and coaching a summer ball team as well as her playing career will aid her greatly as she moves into coaching.
“This certainly isn’t me getting thrown into the fire,” said Monroe. “I’m very hands-on. I think I will bring the asset of being a player and seeing the game from a players’ point of view.
“I think what I bring to the table is that I know what it’s like to be between those lines and to have that pressure. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help the girls not view it as pressure but as fun.”
Monroe said she is extremely excited about getting to work alongside Smith.
“(Coach Smith) is the greatest coach I’ve ever been around,” said Monroe. “She’s not only an amazing coach, but she’s such a great woman. She’s taught me not only things on the field but also so many things off the field.
“Getting the chance to come back and learn from her, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”
The Lady Jackets are coming off a 25-12 season in 2012 in which they won the Region 7-AA title and advanced to the second round of the Class AA State Tournament.
Monroe, who was the state pitcher of the year after her senior season at Calhoun in 2008, said from what she’s seen so far from the current Lady Jackets, she’s looking for big things this fall.
“Calhoun is always the team to beat in the region just like we were at Reinhardt,” said Monroe. “We definitely want to push through that barrier of getting through the region and then falling short at state.
“We have the girls to win here. They are very talented and young so I’m really excited to see what we can do.”