Holbrook Eager to Get Started as Franklin’s New Softball Coach

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Katie Holbrook is looking forward to her first season coaching Franklin High softball.
Issue Date: 
January, 2020
Article Body: 

Katie Holbrook is Franklin High’ new softball coach, and if she had her way, she’d want the season to start immediately.
“I’m eager to get started,’’ said Holbrook, who excelled as a player at Brockton High and Bridgewater State. “I wish the softball season could start tomorrow. I’m honored to direct the team and excited to be entrusted with a program that has great tradition. The facilities are excellent, and the atmosphere is so positive, from the fan base to the administration.’’
Holbrook also noted the passion that the Franklin community has for softball. “The Franklin Girls Softball Association does a great job developing talent for the high school program,’’ she said.
The 33-year-old Holbrook has replaced Kate Fallon-Comeau, who moved over to coach at arch-rival King Philip. Fallon-Comeau led the Panthers for nine years, and her teams qualified for the playoffs in seven of those seasons.
Holbrook’s goals at Franklin are a recipe that should produce more success, both on and off the field. “I want our players to improve every day and to build team chemistry,’’ she emphasized. “We also expect to qualify for the tournament and go as far as possible.’’
An accounting and finance major at Bridgewater State, Holbrook now owns Brand New Ballgame, a softball and baseball training facility in Wrentham. She previously ran sports camps for Skyhawks in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Skyhawks is a national company that promotes camps for youths. She also has coached softball at the club level for seven years, six of those seasons with the BNB Hornets, a team affiliated with Brand New Ballgame.
At Brockton High and at Bridgewater, Holbrook’s softball career was a big success. She was a three-time all-star at Brockton High where she played the outfield and third base. She helped her teams qualify for tourney play three times. The college level is where she compiled impressive numbers. A captain both in high school and college, she hit .372 and .321 at Bridgewater, led the team in RBIs and hit seven home runs in two seasons. Her slugging percentage tipped the scales at .566 and .557.
“I was honored to be a MASCAC all-star twice, and I was named by ESPN The Magazine, as an all-academic selection,’’ Holbrook said. “I also was proud to see our team win two MASCAC championships.’’
Holbrook was hired in November, and she quickly got an opportunity to meet four of last year’s players — senior captains Anna Balkas (centerfielder), Maddy White (third baseman), and Sarah Jackson (outfielder/first baseman) and junior Gabby Colace (infielder). “They were very welcoming,’’ Holbrook said. “They’re good leaders, organized, experienced, and committed to academics.’’
Holbrook conferred with other returnees and prospective candidates at a meet-and-greet session in December and the meeting went well. “I emphasized that we wanted to build a strong team culture,’’ Holbrook said. “It focused on caring about each other, being good communicators and knowing their roles. My athletic philosophy is for my players to reach their potential and have fun. I want them to feel valued and to control their success. If all those things come into play, then winning will follow.’’
Holbrook is acutely aware that valuable life lessons can be learned in sports, and several she hopes her players appreciate are “being accountable, communicative and able to overcome adversity. The attributes I prefer when assembling a roster are to include players who are coachable, athletic, who have a high softball IQ, who want to be good teammates, and who are willing to learn.’’
Holbrook’s style preference as a coach likely will depend on personnel, but she’s definitely a fan of offense. “I valued a productive offense,’’ she noted. “We can play small ball, if needed, and we’ll be solid on defense. We’ll strive to develop pitching but we may have to go with pitchers by committee early on. We’ll use a lot of players on the mound and go with who’s doing well.’’
Coaching in the Hockomock League will be a good test for Holbrook, who has two children, but she’s ready for the battle ahead.
“King Philip is traditionally strong, and Taunton, North Attleboro and Attleboro all have talent and a variety of strengths,’’ she offered. “I want to be in a competitive league. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best. I’m a competitive person, and I thrive on challenging situations.’’
Franklin High Athletic Director Tom Angelo is pleased Holbrook will be part of the Panthers’ coaching staff for the spring season. “She possesses the coaching knowledge and communication skills necessary to take our softball program to the next level,’’ he said. “Her passion for the game and commitment to developing young players is inspiring.’’
There’s always a transition period when a new coach takes the reins of an established program. But, Katie Holbrook should be able to smooth out any wrinkles. Her players will learn quickly that her expectations will be high and she’s all about building strong relationships.
“I want my players to do their best, but today’s best will have to be better than yesterday,’’ she emphasized.