It finally came full circle for Lisa Pinkston, who has always admired the Assumption softball program from afar.
â€œI always looked at Assumption, and admired the camaraderie and the sisterhood that Assumption had,â€ she says. â€œI always looked at the high school and liked the energy. I carried that with me throughout the years, and, as I was looking for job opportunities in softball, I kept being led back to Assumption. It felt right to join the team there.â€
Pinkston transitioned from the University of Louisville director of softball operations to the Rockets head softball coach. She began her duties on September 1.
â€œI knew the program was already in a good spot,â€ she recounts. â€œI wanted to take over a program and continue to build the momentum forward. I knew that with the leadership, athletic director and principal, I would have the resources and support to take the program to the next level.â€
Pinkstonâ€™s experience in softball as a player, coach and administrator will be the driving force to take the Rockets program to the next level. She started as catcher and was the captain at UofL for four years. She then coached at Sacred Heart Academy for three years.
What stood out to Pinkston the most was that Assumption carried its program much like a Division I program. â€œIâ€™ve seen many college campuses across the country, and when I toured Assumptionâ€™s facility, it is comparable to Division I schools,â€ she notes. â€œThe leaders there understand what it takes to be successful and are willing to raise the money to give the girls the best opportunities they can.â€
She believes her experience with the game will be able to bring out the best in her players. â€œI have seen where softball has come and have helped carve that path. I will draw a lot on my experiences playing in the ACC and the top SEC teams in the country to help these young student athletes reach their full potential in whatever they want to do â€“ if they want to play NAIA, Division I, II or III. It is giving them the tools they need to reach their goals in softball.â€
Pinkston says the major difference between working with college student athletes and high school student athletes is primarily age. â€œBeing around college kids from a certain skill set, there is a difference between 14-year-olds and 21-year-olds. The skill set coming from a major Division I program to a major high school program is certainly going to be a change, but the passion and the joy and the love of the sport doesnâ€™t change.â€
Now that she is working with teenagers versus young adults, her objective is to ready her kids for whatever will come after they graduate from Assumption.
â€œMy main goal is to prepare them for college, and my job is to make sure they are prepared for life after high school. That means making sure they get the best education they can possibly get. Assumption High School is academically a fabulous institution. So there has to be balance in training regiment and their studies. They are students first and then athletes. I want to make sure they have a well-balanced high school experience.â€
Pinkston is also the founder of Softball Preps, which focuses on developing young players who aspire to play softball at a higher level through private instruction, camps and clinics.
She says her aim is to truly express her passion for the game of softball. â€œIt is a tool for me to help young girls. Softball is something these girls enjoy to play. It is not something that is going to last a lifetime. I use it as a tool to help these kids gain confidence. So the time they are with me, they can forget about everything else, and when they leave they feel more confident and their skills are improving.â€
As she strives to send the Rockets higher and higher, she also believes Softball Preps will help the Assumption program. â€œI think it will help Assumption as far as me being out there with the youth and continuing to share my passion and knowledge for the game. It is awesome because there werenâ€™t a whole lot of role models for young females coming up. So to be able to provide this for young players to better themselves is the goal. Assumption will benefit from that, but my passion is to be able to share my knowledge no matter what school they go to and no matter where they are headed.â€ VT01