Carolyn Bryan’s Coaching Debut

Natalie Tousignant, Staff Writer

New junior varsity softball coach, Carolyn Bryan, is bringing a new energy to the softball program at Hawthorne High School. Alongside veteran varsity coach, Jackie Turco, and freshmen coach, Jackie Peene, Bryan is prepared for a season of improvement and learning, both on her part as a new coach and on the part of her players.

Bryan, who played softball at Midland Park High School and the University of South Carolina, became a paraprofessional at Hawthorne High School this year and is a graduate student at Montclair State University. This is her first experience coaching, and so far, she says, “The players at Hawthorne have been so receptive and kind. It is great to be a part of such a positive, hardworking program.”

A huge proponent of improving mental skills as well as physical skills, Bryan says, “I am really into the mental part of the game. I think visualization and a positive attitude are essential in order to be successful.” As a coach, Bryan expects her players to be both calm and prepared when they step up to the plate at game time by focusing on the mechanics of hitting in practice. She believes, “That’s what practice is for.”

She adds, “My goal for the JV team is to create an environment where the girls can advance their technical and mental skills in order to perform better and become better teammates. If we can do this as a team, I believe winning follows as a result.”

Only a few weeks into practices, Bryan already feels like part of the Bears’ softball family. Her competitive and encouraging coaching style has earned respect and admiration from her players. Sophomore Kelsey Cimillo remarks, “Coach Bryan really knows the game, but she’s not intimidating. She’s easy to approach and helps us go over exactly what we need to work on at each practice until we get it right.” Agreeing, sophomore Stephanie Sabatello adds, “She does a great job at teaching us what it’s like to be a team. She says any drama between us is dropped at softball.” Peyton Boyd, sophomore, appreciates the care Bryan takes in each of her players and notes, “She takes time to work with us one-on-one.”

Part of Bryan’s approachability is her humility. She lives out the modest mantra she advocates, “Keep it simple” and sweats through the conditioning workouts in the gym alongside her players to motivate them.

In the same way her positive attitude has radiated among the team, Bryan’s practice habits have extended to her players, including her after-practice tradition of high-fiving every person on the team at the end of practice. By ending each day with a round of high-fives, Bryan believes the girls can close practice with a clean slate, forgiving each other for that practice’s errors and focusing on preparing themselves for the next day’s practice or game.

Bryan cites her sister, Ali, also a softball coach, and her high school basketball coach, Mike Kilgallen, as two of her major coaching inspirations. Of Kilgallen, Bryan says, “If I can inspire and impact my players half as much as he does, I would be thrilled.”

Judging by what her players say about her, it appears Bryan is well on her way to having that same impact.