Head coach shakes up softball program

Skylar To

Softball Head Coach Jaclyn Davis has always loved Boston and knew being back in the city was where she wanted to be when she took on the challenge of turning the university’s softball program around.

Davis entered her first season as head coach in 2013 after serving as head softball coach at Austin College. She also served as an assistant softball coach for the Rams in 2008-09 before spending two seasons at Rutgers University. Upon Davis’s arrival, her biggest challenges were changing the team culture, and redefining success and expected work ethnic.

“Once [team culture, success and work ethnic] was put into place, we were able to solidify who or what wasn’t able to make the commitment,” said Davis in an interview with the Journal.

Davis also faced the challenge of recruiting and adding to the 11-member program in 2013. She spent a lot of time recruiting successful student-athletes.

“I hit the ground running,”  said Davis. “I tried to go to as many events as possible and meet as many students and their families as possible.”

Despite the challenge, the period of time was also successful for Davis as she recruited “excellent students and softball talent.”

“Coach has done a phenomenal job recognizing what needs to be changed in the athletic department and what type of girls needs to be recruited for our team,” said senior co-captain Meredith Ball in an interview with the Journal. The outfielder gives credit to Davis’s “good recruits and great coaching” for the team’s winning records ever since she has been coaching the team.

Now, halfway into her fourth season at Suffolk, Davis has seen depth grow in the roster, which she sees as a good problem to have when making game time decisions, a problem she did not face with a smaller team.

“Every single one of them can play,” Davis said. “They have an incredible amount of talent among them. They can start anywhere.”

When senior co-captain Nicole Isakson looks at the team, she sees the confidence and strength the team has to win games with the goal and hope of capturing a championship title.

“When we had 11 people you didn’t know what position you were going to play,” said Isakson in an interview with the Journal. “A lot of people were new to their positions, it was hard to be consistent as a team when everyone’s learning their position.”

As an outfielder, Isakson said having to be versatile in playing second base her freshman year was a challenge. She thinks having assigned roles and a bigger team helped everyone work better as a team.

Isakson added that Davis is very goal oriented.

“She wanted more for our team and more for our program,” said Isakson. “She saw potential and she’s been growing potential ever since. She recruited great players and coaches to help.”

However, Davis said growing as a team makes it tough to keep people invested and happy. Ball and Isakson are the only two graduating seniors on the team this year; the program has a young group of talent moving forward. With the expectation of returning players next season, Davis will continue to recruit and add depth to the team.

“We’ll continue to bring talent,” said Davis. “Each year, it always finds a way to work itself out.”

“We have a very strong sophomore class that made our program turn from a losing record to a winning record,” said Ball.

“I want them to continue being successful,” said Isakson.  “I want them to keep the reputation that we are the best and to keep winning. I know they will grow a lot.”

Besides added depth and growth, Davis sees the “incredible passion” the team has for the sport and for each other.

“The energy level is incredibly high, which is great,” said Davis with a chuckle. “The amount of heart is difficult to match. They genuinely want to be here.”

From working out or doing homework together on a day off from practice, Ball said the team spends everyday together.

“It’s an honor to call this team my second family,”   said Ball. “Working together in the gym, classroom and on the field is rewarding when you have people to celebrate wins with you.”

The growth carries off of the field as well. The team has become a family.

“We do a great job year to year in becoming a little family,” said Davis. “When softball is hard, life gets hard and school gets hard, they have each other’s backs. They have my back and are my family.”

Davis thinks the family-like bond and experiences the team shares are something players will always remember after they graduate, not wins or losses. Becoming closer as a team is exactly what she wanted the team to do in the rebuilding process.

“These girls are one of a kind,” said Ball. “They are truly able to pick me up when I am having a bad day. They understand the meaning of friendship.”

Davis is proud of her team in working hard to also carry success off of the field. She acknowledges the challenges student-athletes face, and said her players are a great representation of the community with more than half of the team participates in the university’s honors program.

“Being a student-athlete is hard work and having a large support system that you can rely on everyday is important,” said Ball.

As head coach, the best part about Davis’s job, she says, is watching the team come together and developing relationships with family and student-athletes.

“I’m a part of something bigger than myself,” said Davis. “[Coaching] is incredibly rewarding. Seeing them find success and happiness on and off of the field is very rewarding. I hope I will know them for a very long time.”