by JASON GORDON
The Hays High softball team has dreams of one day making it to the UIL State stage at McCombs Field in Austin.
The Lady Rebels got closer to that prestigious softball palace on the University of Texas campus this past spring, advancing to the regional quarterfinals.
New Hays assistant varsity coach Holly Long has not only been to State, she was a star player on the Brenham team that won the Class 4A title in 2005.
She moved on to play two years at Temple College and McNeese State University.
Long took a head softball coaching position at Class 3A Gonzales High School and has spent the past three seasons there.
Aaron Fuller, who just wrapped up his first season as Hays head coach, said his new assistant would be a tremendous asset to the team.
“Holly impressed us right away,” Fuller said. “It’s hard enough to find a coach who played Division I ball, but to have played on a high school championship team and have head coaching experience at such a young age is amazing. She’ll be a huge addition to our program.”
Fuller’s team will return most of its starters and he said the addition of Long to the mix is another step in building the foundation of the Lady Rebel softball program.
“After the year we just had, our girls know how good they can be,” Fuller said. “Adding someone to the staff who has the credentials of Coach Long will be tremendous. I think they will really buy into everything she says, and that’s something you don’t get everyday in a coach.”
Long has already made a positive impression on several Hays players attending the school’s High School Summer Power Camp. The camp is for athletes ranging in age from incoming freshmen to players who will be seniors. It focuses on strength, agility and conditioning training.
“When we first met Coach Long at camp, it seemed like she’d be able to bring so much to our team,” said Maddy Shannon, Hays’ returning All-District shortstop. “She’s been in the position we want to get to in the playoffs. She knows what it takes to get there and I think she will push us to reach that level.”
Hays’ All-District pitcher Sarah Leal agreed.
“Coach Long is young, and she’s someone we can all relate to,” Leal said. “I’m going to feel very confident with her helping coach our team next season. Already, at strength and conditioning camp, Coach Long will come up and tell an athlete if they are doing something the wrong way. If they are doing something well, she lets us know that too. She’s just a positive coach all the way around and that’s always going to be very good for our team.”