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Q&A with Newcastle head softball coach, 2023 state champion Mike Crossley – Presented by First National Bank & Trust

Mike Crossley: I’ve been coaching 39 years. I’ve been the fastpitch coach 36.

VYPE: Do you also teach, and what subject?

MC: I’m retired from teaching, this is my first year not teaching. I taught PE and World History.

VYPE: After beating North Rock Creek 5-4 in the semifinal on Friday, what was running through your head? Were you nervous after leaving such a close game?

MC: We knew the North Rock game would be tough, we had played and beaten them earlier in the year and we knew they were good. When we won, it only gave us more confidence going into the finals.

VYPE: Did you feel your players’ heads were in a good place after that game? What were you telling them heading into the Saturday championship game with Purcell?

MC: I thought we were very loose and very confident going into the championship game. I told them we don’t have to do anything special, just play the way we have all year. I told them I thought the semifinal game against North Rock Creek, we played too much on edge and too anxious, especially at the plate. We didn’t swing the bats in the semifinal game the way we are capable of swinging. We did a much better job in the finals swinging the bat and taking some pressure off ourselves.

VYPE: How were you able to hold the Dragons scoreless in the title game?

MC: We are very talented in the field and we have played outstanding defense all year long but the biggest factor was (Breezy) Aubree Ferguson, our pitcher. She throws hard and has good movement and does a great job hitting that outside corner. You really have to be disciplined at the plate to hit her.

VYPE: They say after you win one, every championship after is more special than the last. How did this championship feel compared to 2014 and 2019?

MC: Nah, not for me anyway, they are all special. What really made it special was, it was with three different teams. We won in 2014 and everyone graduates, we win it again in 2019 and not one player from the 2014 team was on it, it was with a total different group of girls, and we win it this year, 2023, and not one girl from the 2019 is on it. Three state championships, three different teams or groups of girls.

VYPE: Which player or player(s) came the furthest from where they started this season?

MC: Every player played a big part, we had so many heroes throughout the season. Just a total team package.

VYPE: Who or what inspired you to become a coach?

MC: When I was growing up I absolutely loved sports and competing and being with my teammates. I couldn’t wait to practice! I wanted to teach and encourage young players how to play, overcome adversity, to approach games and practice, to act like a young lady or young man when off the field, and to be good teammates. It’s awesome to me each season to try to bring 20 to 25 young people together to work and strive for the same goal.

VYPE: What have your players taught you?

MC: They taught me that kids are still tough, resilient, love discipline, and want to be coached hard. That team means everything!

VYPE: What’s your best advice for young coaches?

MC: Always try to surround yourself with good people! You can’t do it alone. You want players that are willing to buy in, supportive admin, AD, and parents that believe in what you’re doing. I’ve got it good here at Newcastle. “It’s a Great Day to be a RACER”!

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