Quitman School District is looking forward to a great softball season now that it has hired a new head coach, Coach Carolyn Patterson.
Coach Patterson has a rich history in softball that will make her a great asset for the Lady Panthers.
“I’m originally from Moselle, MS. I played ball in Anderson, South Carolina and got my Bachelor’s Degree there. I came back home and went to Southern Miss and got my Master’s Degree. While I was there, I worked at Jones Junior College as an assistant basketball coach and assistant softball coach,” stated Coach Patterson. “In softball, we had two state championships and two top ten finishes in the country. I left Jones and went to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and was there from 1996 to 2000. We had two state championships, two region championships, two District J championships, a third place finish in the country, and a fifth place finish in the country.”
She ended up leaving coaching for a few years to take care of her mom, but she eventually returned to coaching at the high school level.
“I got out of coaching for a while to be with my mom who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I worked at Youth Challenge in Hattiesburg for at risk youth and taught math and science there. I went to Wayne County for four years. We were in the playoffs every year and had a winning season every year,” recalled Patterson. “I left Wayne County and went to Greene County and coached there for five years. We were in the playoffs every year there as well.”
Eventually, she made a major life change and thought that she would be with coaching and just stay with her newly acquired family. The only thing that changed her mind was a call from Quitman’s assistant softball coach, Coach Donna Swilley.
“I adopted my beautiful Hannah and got out of coaching to be a full-time mom, which I loved. I had not even thought about getting back into coaching because she is high energy, and we love spending time with each other,” explained Patterson. “Coach Swilley called me and asked if I had thought about coming out of retirement. I’ve known Donna for at least 30 years because we’ve played ball together and played against each other. She told me she would be able to work with me and our coaching staff and told me about Coach Hannah. We talked about it, and I prayed about it. I decided to do it. Without Coach Swilley and Coach Hannah, I don’t know that I would have been as interested in coming back to coaching.”
Coach Patterson values her entire coaching staff and knows how valuable an asset they will be to her. She loves that both of her assistant coaches have experience and that they all agree on very important ideas and discipline for the team. Although she is head coach, she focuses on all of the coaches as a team and doesn’t want to be in the spotlight on her own.
“A head coach is only as good as the people she’s working with. I learned that over the last 25 years. To be successful, you have to have good, quality coaches,” expressed Patterson. “We’re all going to work together, and we’re all here for the same reason: it’s for the kids. We’re here to improve them as athletes. We’re here to improve them as people. We’re going to hold their feet to the fire. We’re an extension of their family when it comes to things in life and discipline.”
Not only does Coach Patterson see the value in her fellow coaches and the experience they bring, but she can already see what the softball team itself is capable of. She is already planning on finding all the strengths the players already possess and working to help make them even stronger. She plans to work them hard on the field in a way that allows them to have fun, but she also has rules in place to help teach them more responsibility that can carry on in everyday life. She desires to see her team succeed and love playing the sport again.
“Our girls have speed, and they have talent. We’re just going to improve on that and their roles,” informed Patterson. “There is going to be more consistency. They’re going to know what to do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and know what is expected of them. My goal is to have a productive season. Everybody’s ultimate goal is state championship, but I want them to have fun along the way. I’m going to mix things up a little in practice and plan on fun things, but we will still be grinding. I want it to be something they can look back on and remember more than just wins and losses. I want them to look back years from now and remember those times they dumped the bucket on the coach or learning how to slide by using a slip and slide. My ultimate job is to provide an experience for these young people that is conducive to learning.”
With the plans and experience that Coach Patterson is now bringing to Quitman School District, the softball program is bound to thrive once again. The community can look forward to coming out and supporting a strong team of Lady Panthers who truly have fun on the field and will be playing to the best of their abilities.