Dena Tyson is a Corona Angels head coach at the 18U and 16U levels and has found success as a club coach for the last decade after an All-American career at Washington.
At PGF Nationals this summer Dena led her 16U team to a 3rd place finish.
The daughter of legendary Corona Angels head coach Marty Tyson, she competed at the University of Washington from 2002 to 2007 and was part of Husky teams that made the Women’s College World Series three times (2003, ’04 and ’07).
As a senior, Dena was a 1st Team All-American and was selected to the WCWS All-Tournament Team.
Playing a sport isn’t easy, but especially a game that is filled with failure!
Everyone who has played softball has had bad games, bad tournaments, or a bad series (if you played in college).
I have been asked, “How do you deal with this?” Very simply: Fake it until you make it!
I can remember a college series in Arizona where we played Arizona on Friday and Arizona State Saturday and Sunday.
They had Alicia Hollowell and Katie Burkhart (if you don’t know who they are, Google them).
They are both rise ball pitchers and I was a sucker for the rise ball! That weekend I had double-digit strikeouts.
It was so bad that my dad thought Game-Tracker was broken, lol! And just my luck, our pitching was just as good so that meant we played extra innings every game.
I got to the point where I was giving my coach the look like please pull me!!!
Although I was struggling, I knew as a junior and a vocal leader, I couldn’t let my failure affect that role. I faked it!
I led cheers with pain in my heart because I knew the game was bigger than me. Sometimes when you struggle, you need to find something else to focus on.
If you are not the vocal leader and leading cheers, do a chart for your coach or get the balls for the infield and outfield warm-ups. Find anything that will let you focus on something else. Find a way to contribute and do it to the fullest.
I want to talk about this because recently at PGF Nationals, I had college coaches watching my players all week.
As a coach, I luck out and get the feedback from the college coaches. I had players who struggled and players who excelled; however most of the feedback I got from the coaches was about player demeanor during the game.
The coaches talked about the players’ hustle when they made offensive outs, their reactions when they made offensive outs and just their general attitude.
Obviously getting hits and being productive is important!
But coaches need to know what kind of player you are going to be in the dugout and on the field when you are not being productive at the plate. Remember: the best hitters get out seven of every 10 times!
I also want to address the frustration that brings you to tears.
I absolutely wanted to cry during that Arizona series, but I had to fake it. I want you to know tears are okay!
I went the whole weekend tear-free until my dad called me on Monday. I had a voice crack and a slipped tear and my dad was in Seattle by Tuesday!
So, yes, it’s okay to cry but only at the right time and place. Don’t cry during the game or around your teammates.
Find a quiet place, call a friend, a family member, or anybody that you consider as part of your “safe place.” Then, get it out and move on!
Remember too that frustration stops progress.