Going into the 2021 spring season, the St. Olaf women’s softball team is ranked 14th in the nation by the National Fastpitch Coaching Association (NFCA), their highest ranking in the history of the program. This week, I sat down with Head Coach Kayla Hatting to discuss the team’s success and what makes this season so special.
How would you describe your philosophy as a coach?
My philosophy as a coach has definitely changed over time, but for me, it all comes down to being a good human. Whether that be in the classroom, at your job, at practice or even being a good friend. In my mind, it’s about doing the right thing all the time, and I think the team has really bought into that idea. While I’m so proud of the girls for achieving this ranking, the best thing about it is that they went about it in the right way. And I think that all ties back into being a good human all the time, on and off the field.
St. Olaf is ranked 14th in the NFCA. What would you attribute your team’s success to?
While it’s true that as a team we decide to practice every day at 5 a.m., I think that speaks to the larger theme of persistence and consistency present in the group. Obviously we want to be good, but even more than that, this team does not settle. I see the girls working hard to show up every day to reach their full potential. Whether that’s waking up to practice at 5 a.m. or being flexible with COVID protocols and safety procedures, these girls never settle for excuses. It really is a team effort, and it’s so exciting to see them show up every day and want to get to work.
What makes softball at St. Olaf so special?
As cheesy as it sounds, we really are a family, and the love that the whole team has for one another is definitely what makes this group so special. As a coach, I try to focus on character and character building, and seeing how much we all mean to one another has shown me that this team will go out into the world as more than just good softball players. They’ll be good humans too.
What are you looking forward to this season?
In a twist of fate, our first game this season is scheduled for one year to the day that the season was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID. Obviously I’m excited to be a coach, but even more than that I’m excited to see the girls compete. When they’re out on the field, they fight for each other and I truly love seeing them when they are at their best. The ranking is great, but to see them have a chip on their shoulder and walk into the season with confidence is something I’m definitely looking forward to. If there’s anything that COVID has taught us, it’s not to take the season for granted because nothing is guaranteed. Just taking the field, even in the abbreviated season, and seeing the love these girls have for the game and each other is what it’s all about.