Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gerry Glasco Steps Into Justin's World

Even before his USSSA Pride team took home the 2014 Cowles Cup, Gerry Glasco was a name well-known in softball circles. A longtime assistant coach at the University of Georgia and credited with having a hand in the development and enormous success of players such as Megan Wiggins and Kristyn Sandberg, his off-season move to Texas A&M has already been one of the most discussed moves in college softball over the summer.

In his six seasons with the Dawgs under Lu Harris-Champer, Glasco coached an elite handful of players who not only recorded stellar collegiate careers but moved on to continue their careers at the professional level. Wiggins and Sandberg, the 2013 NPF MVP and 2012 Rookie the Year, respectively, are two of the biggest names among the bunch that also includes Alisa Goler; Taylor Schlopy; and Bri Hesson.

Prior to his collegiate coaching career beginning at Georgia, Glasco was a high school and travel ball coach for many years. His three daughters all played softball at the collegiate level and one went on to continue her career in the pros; youngest daughter Geri Ann spent the first two seasons of her career with her dad at Georgia, but herself transferred to the Oregon Ducks this off-season.

A small-town boy from the very beginning, Glasco is originally from the state of Illinois. Attending high school at the 120-member Crab Orchard, Illinois HS, he played "every" sport as a youngster. Whether it be on the baseball diamond, the basketball court, or the track, Glasco's involvement in athletics began early in life. He credits a coach from those years as one of his own coaching role models: "Our Coach Richard Powers was a great coach and a role model for me as a coach every single day! Coach Powers was a huge factor in our daily lives for our four years of high school and I feel like he taught me a lot about how to handle athletes and balance out the importance of winning, having fun, and being great teammates."

2014 was Glasco's first season as head coach of the Pride, and we (finally) continue our series of interviews with 2014 NPF newcomers by getting his take on several things. Please note that this interview was conducted several weeks ago; it was intended for publication during the championship series, but we decided to instead start your week off on a high note with this great interview! 

How long have you been involved with the game of softball? How did you first get involved with the sport?
I began coaching in the early ‘90s at the 10U level with my oldest daughter Tara’s city recreation league teams.

If you could, just give a brief overview of your career; your “coaching resume”.
I began coaching 10U, then 12U “pony” softball, 14U, then high school and Junior High School before starting the Southern Force Gold in 2000, which I coached from 2000-2008 before joining the UGA staff for the 2008-09 season.

How did you first hear about the NPF?
I began following the NPF back when it started, as I feel we need to support women’s softball in an effort to grow our sport. Then I became even more familiar with it as Kristin Schnake, a former Southern Force and U of Georgia player and Erin, my middle daughter, joined the USSSA Pride in the summer of 2009.

Before your current position came about, was coaching in the professional league something you’d considered or desired to do?
I always thought it would be a learning experience to coach these great players of the game and study their mental approach, find out what motivates them to be the best, learn from a coaching standpoint how to allow them to play at their peak performance level, etc. As far as coaching at that level, no, I had never really given it a lot of thought until the Pride called and asked if I might be interested.

How would you describe your coaching style?
I can vary my coaching style to whatever I feel it needs to be. In junior high ball, I coached completely different than in 18U Gold, and obviously in college in an even different style. I want the players to feel like they are ready to perform when they walk on the field; I want them to know that their coaching staff will go to war for them in a game, and I want the players to be comfortable and able to communicate with our staff. Bottom line is to get our players to play at their highest level, we will have to work hard and, just as important, have fun in competition.

With the league as small as it is right now, do you see the opportunities for growth in the future?
Absolutely! Softball is a great game. A great game for spectators, and fans throughout the country love the game of fast pitch softball. It is a unique sport in that it consistently creates a lot of excitement in a short period of time and is played by many different types of athletes. Speed, power, defense, intelligence, guts… they are all traits of the game that are consistently found in all great spectator sports.

Even with it just being a “summer job”, is coaching in the pros something you’d be interested in doing long-term?
It is not just a “summer job” for me! I want to help the Pride team become the most dominant softball team and win a championship! The owner Don DeDonatis and the GM Gordon Glennie and the whole Pride staff have done so much for our sport and the girls in the NPF, so I want to give them all that I have to make this season a special time and occasion for the whole Pride organization.  We want to create an environment where our players can have a great and exciting season, yet in which they learn about themselves as players and individuals and come together as a team that performs at their highest level possible on the field!

What is something you were most looking forward to about coaching in the NPF this summer?
The little things, like getting to watch great athletes such as Caitlin Lowe slap in her BP sessions and giving her the time and commitment to see her go into a game with total confidence that she is ready… getting to watch Natasha Watley perform on the field and run the bases… getting to study the mindset of perhaps the greatest pitcher ever in the history of fast pitch, Cat Osterman in her bullpen sessions and in the moments of the big game!  Getting to see the great young players on the Pride learn from and compete with the tremendous veteran players on a daily basis! There are so many things to get excited about that it is difficult to name only a few, but nothing is more exciting than the simple goal of winning!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or been given?
Work hard, have fun, and enjoy every moment of life as it only lasts a little while!

Who would you say is your “hero” and how does that person inspire you in your work as a coach today? 
Coach Champer at Georgia has been so important to me as coach. When I coached travel ball, she was always in the background, encouraging me and telling me that I had special qualities as a coach. Then for several years she gave me the opportunity to join her staff at Georgia before I was able to. Then when the timing to join her staff was right, she had the confidence, vision, and leadership ability to give me great freedom in recruiting for our program at UGA. Coach Champer is a genius in so many ways about the sport of fastpitch and I want to see her get that CWS and SEC Championship ring that I feel she deserves!  
The mandatory final question: Say you were stranded on a deserted island and could take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you carry along? 
Well, you probably don’t know this, but I was a duck and quail hunting guide for 25 years on the gulf coast of Mexico. So, seriously, I have been stranded several times on islands, and I would do now what I did then! Find some shade, go to sleep, enjoy the peace and quiet and get some well-deserved rest! Hope they find me soon, but not too soon and enjoy the moment!

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