Oakcrest Assistant Softball Coach Continuing Family Legacy
Lindsay Day respectfully declined to answer when asked which girl in the Day family is most athletic. She also took a pass when asked which of the four young ladies from Mays Landing is the most gifted academically. Although, to be fair, when you have that much talent in one family, it’s kind of like choosing a vacation to Hawaii, Italy, France or New Zealand — you really can’t go wrong with any choice.
Day is the second daughter of Sean and Joan Day, and if that surname sounds familiar, it should, as Lauren, Lindsay, Logan and Lainey Day all left considerable legacies during their time at Oakcrest, which lasted nearly a decade from the time Lauren began her high school career in 2007 to Lainey’s graduation in 2016. Lauren (2011) was a swimmer who went on to attend Johns Hopkins University, Lindsay (2012) was a star softball and soccer player and is finishing up her math degree at Rutgers-Camden, Logan (2015) finished her career as one of the Falcons’ best softball players ever and recently graduated from Stockton University, and Lainey (2016) was talented in the arts and drama during her time at Oakcrest and now attends The College of New Jersey.
While she continues her studies, Lindsay has been helping out the Oakcrest softball program as an assistant coach the past two years, and is bringing her knowledge as a high level high school, travel and college player to the bench. Head coach Jason Hearn said Day’s presence has made a huge impact on the program, as the Falcons are in the midst of a rebirth with a lot of facility upgrades, new uniforms and an overall attitude to be not only more together as teammates, but more competitive. This year, the Falcons went 12-10 and earned a berth in the South Jersey Group 2 tournament.
“I had the opportunity to coach her in soccer and softball, and for her to be able to come back and give back to the program has been a welcome addition. I’ve had several former athletes come back and coach for a couple of years, bringing their knowledge of playing at the next level. It makes me proud to say they are my former athletes who are coming back and giving back to the program, still believing in that mindset that I tried to instill in them when they were athletes,” Hearn said. “All those (Day) girls were blessed with different talents. Lindsay played college softball and works with different travel teams. She actually brought more energy to me, too. Every once in a while I need a different perspective, and she really encouraged me to grow as a coach. That youthfulness, her fiery competitiveness, and it’s nice to not be the only one in the trenches.”
Day actually got her coaching start while she was a high school player, helping out a travel team that featured players who were just a few years younger than she. Even now, in her early 20s, some of the high school seniors are just a few years younger, but Day said she likes that aspect of it because she can relate to what these girls are going through. She was just in their shoes not too long ago, after all.
“My senior year in high school I coached a U14 travel team, so I got started with that, then I coached two more seasons of travel ball. Coach Hearn had reached out to me because they needed another coach and that’s always what I’ve wanted to do, and it was a great chance to give back to the program at the same school I went to. It was the perfect opportunity,” Day said. “That’s the part I liked most about it. When I was younger we usually had a coach who was somebody’s dad, who might have been 25 years older than you, so sometimes it’s nice to have a coach who is similar in age to you. I know what these girls are going through in softball and in school, so it’s helped me have a great relationship with a lot of the girls. My whole thing is, ‘no one cares, work harder.’ Meaning, everyone is experiencing the same things, so whatever work you put in, that’s what you’ll get out of it. I try to teach the girls to come to practice every day and work hard. You reap what you sow. That’s what we’re trying to instill in the whole program.”
Like most young coaches, Day said she came into the job last year like a whirlwind, trying to make all kinds of changes right off the bat, but coach Hearn convinced her that being a coach is a whole lot different than being a player, and there were things she would need to learn along the way.
“You come in so gung-ho, you’re ready to change the program, do this, this and that, but you need to have a bunch of girls buy into what you’re selling. In the beginning, it was kind of figuring out what was the best coaching style for them, and what my coaching style was going to be. I had to figure out what worked best for them and the program as a whole. It took a little bit of time to get to know the girls, their style of play and the competition, but I think we had a breakthrough in the middle of the season last year,” she said. “In the beginning, I came in with all kinds of ideas and (Hearn) was like, ‘OK, let’s pump the brakes a little bit.’ I thought I knew everything because I played in high school, I played in college, played up and down the East Coast, but he was like, ‘I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than you have.’ The good thing was he let me do everything and try new things at practice and in games. He allowed me to figure out what worked and what didn’t. He’s been great the whole time. He’s someone who I’m comfortable with and someone who I had a player-coach relationship with previously, so the whole thing was a smooth transition. It’s nice that we can talk about things and he’s someone I can go to if I have any questions about anything. He’s knows the game well because he’s been coaching for a number of years, so it’s been nice having someone who I feel comfortable around.”
Day said she would eventually like to get her master’s degree and get into coaching at the college level, but for right now she’s enjoying bringing some new energy to the Oakcrest softball program and trying to build the Falcons up into a contender in the Cape-Atlantic League.
“Hearn and I got together and made some decisions about the program. We wanted to change the whole image and how people thought about us. We got new uniforms, new fencing — we wanted everything to look sharp. If things look sharp, everything will follow suit with the girls,” Day said. “I love it. I’ve been so lucky to coach these girls. It’s a great group, girls come to practice every day eager and willing to learn. I’ve been really blessed to come into a program that has had some success in the past, and even though we’re losing some good seniors this year, I think our core group will lead to a good couple of years coming up.”
Hearn said it’s also been great having Day on staff because she brings a female coach’s perspective to the program, and sometimes it’s easier for a high school girl to talk to a female coach about something that might be bothering her on a particular day.
“That’s the thing that we’ve tried to convey to the girls is that I’ve been where they are, I went to school here, played softball here, had the same problems they had whether it be with relationships, school work,” Day said. “Now, they are more comfortable around me. The first year you’re kind of walking on eggshells because you don’t know what to expect, they don’t know what to expect from you, but now I’ve developed a lot of strong relationships with the girls and we get along well. I think it’s definitely helpful having another female coach on staff.”
“That’s always a bonus. I have a good relationship with most of the players in school, a lot of them do student council, a lot of them play other sports for me or participate in programs that I help run. But having that female presence definitely does help with that comfort level for the girls,” Hearn added. “She played for me and she understands that I am approachable and that I’m there for whatever the girls need, but sometimes it does take that little bridge that a female coach can provide.”
What Day thought coaching might be like is probably much different than the reality of the past two years, but she said she’s enjoying the opportunity to learn not only more about coaching, but about herself as well.
“I remember when I was playing and thinking, man, I can’t wait until I’m a coach. Now, when I go home, sometimes I’m frustrated when I don’t see the same passion that I have. But when you’re coaching in high school, not every girl is focused on playing in college. Some people just play because they enjoy the sport and the camaraderie. Sometimes I just go home and have to take a deep breath and focus not on what they could have done better, but what I could have done better,” she said. “As a coach in just my second year, the most important thing I’ve learned is that I need to learn from others. I can’t come in here thinking I know everything there is to know about softball, especially coaching. There are things you don’t realize when you’re a player, so I’ve just been trying to adapt and reflect on things that I’ve done and always try to learn from what I’m doing.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays