Mabardy Excited about the Softball Mix at Natick High

Ken Hamwey
It’s the element of excitement that new coach Alyssa Mabardy hopes to instill in Natick’s softball program.
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

Alyssa Mabardy is Natick High’s new softball coach, but she’s not new to the school or the softball program.
The 28-year-old Mabardy, a 2007 graduate of Natick High, was a three-sport athlete, competing in field hockey, ice hockey and softball. A Bay State Conference all-star in field hockey and softball, she later became the Redhawks’ junior-varsity coach in field hockey and softball after graduating from St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vt. In 2016, she served as Natick High’s interim head coach in softball when Kerryn Perkins took a maternity leave.
A native of Natick, Mabardy has other coaching credentials. She was Waltham High’s varsity softball coach last spring and she’s been Lexington High’s freshman field hockey coach for the last three seasons. A member of the Natick faculty for six years, she’s currently an academic tutor at the high school.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to coach the varsity squad,’’ Mabardy said. “I’m familiar with some of the players, and I like their work ethic and potential. Our younger players should give us a good mix.’’
Mabardy’s goal for her first, full-time year on the job is very basic — she wants her players to focus on achievement. Qualifying for tourney play is on her to-do list, but she’s a firm believer that “you have to crawl before you walk.’’
“If getting into the tourney in our first year occurs, it’ll signal a bright future for the program,’’ she noted. “It would mean a solid foundation will have been built and tradition would be established. And, it would create excitement for our underclassmen. But, day-to-day improvement and week-to-week achievement are my priorities.’’
When assembling a roster, Mabardy prefers specific attributes. She leans towards players who possess a solid work ethic, versatility, a high softball IQ, strong fundamentals, a coachable nature and good skills.
That mix coincides with her competitive philosophy. “Winning results from working hard and reaching one’s potential,’’ she emphasized. “And, if you’re winning, then enjoyment and fun follow.’’
Mabardy, who has a master’s degree from Cambridge Community College in guidance counseling, is delighted with her staff that will include Lexi Harvey (varsity assistant), Diane Whittaker (jayvee coach) and Jeff Wright (freshman coach). “They’re knowledgeable, they teach fundamentals, and they’re comfortable at their levels,’’ she said.
Mabardy also is pleased with her captains — a trio of seniors who she’s quite familiar with. They are Carly Erickson (first base), Julia Adelman (outfield) and Nicole Segale (centerfield). “They were sophomores when I was the interim coach,’’ she recalled. “They’re hard-workers and ideal student-athletes who are quality leaders who complement one another very well. They’ll also set good examples in practices.’’
Having met with her captains after she was hired in September, Mabardy planned to conduct a players’ meeting for all candidates at all levels. “We’ll talk about expectations, my practice regimen, and I’ll distribute schedules,’’ she said. “After that meeting, I’ll have a follow-up session with parents.’’
Mabardy hopes to build a squad that features a blend of small ball and power-hitting. “I’ll have some players who’ll excel in small ball and others who’ll be power-hitters,’’ she said. “A successful team relies on a balance of both. If each player fulfills their role, that leads to improvement every day and every game.’’
Mabardy lists her father (Michael) and older sister (Ashley) as her role models. “My father stressed a strong work ethic, and my sister helped me adjust to sports at the high school level,’’ she said. “Ashley also coached, and she always offers advice when I ask.’’
Two coaches for whom she played at Natick High are her “mentors,’’ and they include Kirk Buschenfeld and Cara Chase. “Kirk was my softball coach, he was inspiring, and he encouraged me to coach,’’ Mabardy said. “Cara taught us to be competitive in field hockey, but she also stressed that sports had to be fun and that enjoying the experience was important.’’
Acutely aware that playing sports helps students learn life lessons, Mabardy especially likes the spirit and camaraderie that athletics build. “Lessons like overcoming adversity, setting goals and developing leadership skills are all positive aspects that sports can teach,’’ she said. “Also, players learn that they can be role models.’’
And, they can also learn to be persistent, which is what Mabardy witnessed when her Natick squad played at Milton during her interim season. “We had lost to them previously,’’ she recalled. “We had a young team, and my pitcher was a freshman. The game went back and forth, but we finally won by two runs in the 10th inning. It was very exciting.’’