Last spring, as she held down a part-time job with graduation looming, Rockville High School senior Trish Chahalis, 17, had to take a step back from her favorite sport. As much as she wanted to continue playing softball, “it was just too much,” said Chahalis.
But as the high school season began in March, Chahalis naturally found herself missing the game. She told herself the interruption would be be temporary. She hopes to play for Montgomery College next year. But college and the fall are a long way off.
So when assistant principal Daniel Garcia approached her about helping coach his daughter’s youth league team, Chahalis was more than ecstatic. Garcia had asked her a year earlier, but she had no car and was playing for the high school then.
This year it was meant to be. She could schedule her work around the weekly practices and the Saturday games didn’t start until school was almost out. “I was happy since I still got to be a part of softball,” Chahalis said.
Over the past few months, Chahalis has found a new way to love the game. Prompted by memories of a bad coach, she set out to make a difference.
“I’ve always wanted to be a coach,” she said. “I knew I could do so much better and I could share my knowledge. I’ve had a lot of fun watching them grow.”
In addition to helping the middle school students on the Takoma Park Silver Spring Seniors “Green Machine” team with their mechanics, Chahalis tries to help them learn the nuances of the game — when to adjust their swing to the pitcher, when to shift in the infield.
She also helps them learn to handle the disappointment that can come with playing softball. If a player is moody after a strikeout or a misplayed ball, Chahalis may be the first to approach her.
“Especially since I’m a girl, I think they listen more when they get emotional,” she said. “I tell them it’s either me or your dad comes tell you this.” (All the other coaches on the team are fathers of players.)
“I actually had more fun coaching these girls than being coached,” said Chahalis, whose team has just one game left to play this summer.
Even if she doesn’t make the team next year, Chahalis still will be involved with softball. “I love this team and and can’t wait for next season,” she said.