Susan Lee Ballard is stepping down from coaching the Lady Cougar softball team after six years.
“Susan Lee has done an outstanding job with the girls’ softball program,” said YCHS athletic director Steve Boyd. “She’s a first-class person. I really appreciate all she has done.”
Boyd said Ballard spent four years coaching her daughter, Mattie Ballard, who graduated last year.
“That’s always special, when you can coach one of your kids,” Boyd said. “I am very pleased and proud of her commitment to the softball program.”
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Ballard talked about what the experience meant to her.
“I have many players that have been very special to the program and very special to me,” she said. “I will always remember the special times and their commitment to the program, but most of all I am proud to have known and been a part of many of these young ladies’ lives.
“This includes the players that I was fortunate enough to coach through graduation, as well as those that will be returning to play. For the returning players, I wish the best for the program and hope for a bright future.”
Ballard said she sees YCHS softball on the rise for the next few years.
“We only had one senior this season and should have many returnees,” she said. “We are in a very strong region that sent three teams to the district playoff finals this year, yet a couple of the stronger teams will be graduating some key players, which will help level the competition.”
She also said York has some promise with pitchers returning as well as young pitchers coming up.
Ballard said she wasn’t sure about coaching her daughter, and had talked with Boyd about that.
“I did not want to coach during this time because I didn’t want to ‘follow’ my child on the field, and didn’t want to be the parent /coach,” she said. “He told me it could be challenging, but it could also be special.”
Ballard previously coached YCHS softball in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
“I felt I was a coach before I was a parent, and I wasn’t getting into coaching because my daughter started playing, her playing just got me back into coaching,” she said.
“One thing was correct, the opportunity was special,” she said. “After Mattie graduated, I knew I wanted to continue coaching because I had a love for the girls and a love for the game.”
However, Ballard said that after coaching the Lady Cougars this season, she realized the time and commitment of being a head coach was no longer what she wanted to do.
“I played for the state championship for YCHS in 1982 under Sara Hope, who taught me what it was to be a part of a team,” she said. “Through that experience, I made three things my philosophy of coaching. We must be a team, fundamentals are important and it has to be fun.”
Ballard said she sport hasn’t changed “but the way it is approached has. It is now pretty much year-round, with girls playing on travel teams throughout the spring, summer and fall, as well girls going to specialized coaches.”
Ballard said school ball is just part of that. “I have decided I just don’t want the head coaching responsibilities, but have enjoyed the time that I have been able to spend as head coach at York.”
Ballard said she wants to thank Boyd and John Moorefield for their support. “They have been wonderful to work under and do a great job at YCHS. I also would like to thank my assistant coach, Leigh Ziegler, who has been a wealth of knowledge and super to work with.”
Boyd said he is getting the word out for applications for the coaching vacancy. “We will accept and review applications from people who are interested in that position,” he said.