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On Saturday, February 4th, the esteemed UCLA Bruins Softball Team came to Carmel Valley for their annual instructional clinic with North Shore Girls Softball League. North Shore is honored to host this fabulous group of women who share their time and knowledge with our burgeoning set of young athletes.
The Bruins are the most successful collegiate softball team in recent years. It was only fitting that the team won their first title in the newly formed National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1982. The victories since have added up at a rapid pace – 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2010.
The victories were achieved under the leadership of three women over the last 37 years. Sharon Backus was the head softball coach at UCLA from 1975 to 1997 and led her teams to nine national collegiate softball championships. At the time of her retirement in 1997, she was the most victorious college softball coach in the history of the sport and has been inducted into both the National Softball Hall of Fame and the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Following Backus’s retirement, Sue Enquist became the sole head coach at UCLA in 1997, a position she held for ten years. In 18 years (including her time as assistant coach) at UCLA, Enquist compiled a record of 887–175–1. Enquist has been honored with inductions into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the UCLA Hall of Fame. Finally, Kelly Inouye-Perez has filled these very large shoes and has been an extremely effective and successful head coach for the past five years. She led the UCLA softball program to its 12th national title and 11th NCAA championship in 2010.
The resounding phrase of the day was “I buy into me” spoken authoritatively and enthusiastically by Coach Kelly. We were introduced to each player and their personal triumphs with the game. Coach Kelly stressed that our girls had to look inside themselves to find the best. Each player cannot control the fans, the ump, the other team but they can control their effort and performance – which is what’s most important.
The Bruins players spent the rest of the day coaching girls as young as 5 years old about key components of softball – diving catches, grounders, pop flies, running bases, tagging bases, batting, bunting, catching and pitching. Clearly our young players were in awe of the Bruins’ technical knowledge, supportive coaching and team spirit. As Coach Lisa says, we should get 1% better each day – I think North Shore players surpassed this percentage with flying colors on that sunny February day under the spell of Bruins’ magic.
Elizabeth Ander Hughes serves on the North Shore Girls Softball League board as Fall Ball Coordinator and Social Media Director. She also has her own food blog called Virtually Homemade and is an experienced writer. Liz is a Carmel Valley San Diego community resident and mom to two wonderful kids and a wife to a loving husband. She will be working on behalf of North Shore Girls Softball League to feature information about youth athletics and also inform the community about their softball events and the North Shore Girls Softball League in general. We are excited to have both Liz and NSGSL as part of our growing “Sports” section.