Erin Bridges wants to bring stability to the Checotah softball program. She’s got the excitement part down, if not the direct experience.
“I’ve always been a competitive person,” she said just after her second practice. She was officially hired last week.
“People laugh because I took a flag football team in Eufaula and didn’t even have a kid on the team and we went to the Super Bowl,” she said. “I’ve coached (elementary) kids in basketball, soccer, baseball, forever. It’s an amazing opportunity but I’m no stranger to coaching or the game.”
She most recently taught at Eufaula. But she played fastpitch at Little Elm (Texas) north of Dallas and after a year at junior college, landed at Northeastern State (2003 to 2005) and met her husband, Brendon, there.
She inherits a program mired in a lack of postseason success and coming off a year with some dissension with rumors of kids planning to transfer and upset parents. What she got on day one clears the board on all that.
“We had 33 out Wednesday and 37 out today,” she said Thursday. “I want to build a program. I don’t care what happened in the past, this will be a positive thing. I have an amazing coaching staff and administration that’s dedicated to working hard, building character and creating then maintaining a tradition of winning.”
That staff includes Malcolm Warrior, a former multiple sport standout for the Wildcats who is on full-time staff, and Caleb Knight, who should be playing minor league baseball as a catcher in the Chicago Cubs’ system but saw those hopes go up in flames as minor leagues were cancelled by COVID-19. He, like Warrior, is a multi-sport ex.
His sister, Natalie, is a sophomore.
“Thankfully that worked out for us and it gives him a chance to give back to his school and community for the fall anyway,” Bridges said.
“Our staff is enthusiastic and has a lot to give. We want the girls to love it as much as we do, at the end every bit as much as the beginning. We want to compete in meaningful competition, improve their skill and knowledge of the game and that they want to return next year.”