Vaught's Views: Perry, Stephens enjoy softball as much as football

May 27, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

They both insist they have learned to control their emotions much better, but coaches Jerry Perry and Andy Stephens can both still be a tad bit intimidating on the softball field.

Perry and Stephens have both made the transition from football coach to girls softball coach in recent years. Perry, a former head football coach at Garrard County, is an assistant football coach at Danville. Stephens is the head football coach at Casey County.

Stephens thinks coaching girls softball may have helped make him a better overall coach.

"Maybe it has helped my patience more than anything else," said Stephens. "I am pretty hot-headed. Maybe coaching girls has helped me calm down some. I used to be pretty hard on the girls and make them cry. I don't think I am that hard any more."

Perry made his share of girls cry, too, when he took over the Danville program. However, he says umpiring softball, not coaching softball, has made him a more mellow coach.


"Umpiring made a big impact on me as a coach," Perry said. "That helped me more in coaching than anything I've ever done. You don't hardly ever see me go crazy on the sidelines any more."

Wait. There's more.

"I hardly ever get on an official any more, either, because I've had the other viewpoint," Perry said. "You learn to understand maybe he (the official) didn't have the right position. You learn they are not trying to do anything to you with the calls they make because you've been out there making calls yourself."

But didn't Danville frequently have girls leave games and/or practices crying when Perry first brought his football mentality to the softball field?

"Crying happens"Should more coaches try working with boys and girls?

So should more coaches try working with both boys and girls teams?

"I think any time you coach another sport, it helps you and makes you better if you are working at it the way you should," Stephens said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be a girls sport. If you spend twice as much time coaching as you were before, you should get better unless you are just going through the motions. If you are willing to work, then I think any coach should add another sport."

Perry says he had no secret motivation when he became Danville's softball coach.

"I just enjoy softball," he said. "I didn't get involved because there were girls involved. I got involved to coach softball.

"If somebody enjoys another sport, get involved. But I wouldn't get involved just to coach girls, or boys. That's not fair. I would say get involved to coach the sport."

Whatever the reasons, it's worked well for Stephens and Perry as well as their teams. Tears have mainly turned to cheers for both teams, and two men formerly known best for their football coaching have shown it's possible to also play a meaningful role in a far different sport.

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