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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 22, 2012

New coach, new attitude for Dutch softball: “Serious fun”

GUILDERLAND –– A new head coach can change the whole dynamic of a team, and that’s what Lou Marino is hoping happens as the fresh replacement for Guilderland softball.

At Monday’s practice, Marino was making loud comments such as; “We’re going to find out right now who studied” and, “We’re going to score runs at a precipitous amount, but you want to score more.”

Marino stopped in the middle of practice to point out a situation in last season’s sectional loss to Shenendehowa where a ball was popped up and three Guilderland players went after the ball, leaving third base vacant. A Shen player walked from second base to third, scoring on the next play.

“She actually walked the bases,” Marino said to his players about that particular mistake. “Pain might be a good motivator, I don’t know.”

Senior Jess Peck told The Enterprise that Marino hollers a lot more than former coach Beth Ray. “He’s very loud, but we benefit from it,” Peck said. “It gets us pumped up and excited to play. We shouldn’t be babied because this is the varsity level. We should get yelled at if we’re doing something stupid.”

Eight players (Peck, Morgan Ten Eyck, Taylor Ten Eyck, Marissa DiMarzio, Kelsey O’Connor, Meg Myers, Mallory Harrigan, and Jenna Cubello) were used to being coached by Ray. It’s definitely a change, but Marino isn’t necessarily more competitive then Ray.

“We can’t talk about personal stuff because he’s a guy, but I like having a male coach,” said Peck. “This is tough for me to say because I’m a girl, and I’m competitive, but I think men are more competitive in a way. Does that sound right?”

Marino played baseball at Burnt Hills High School and the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and coached junior-varsity and freshman baseball at Guilderland. He has three daughters, and one of them, Gabby, is on the Dutch softball team. Marino has coached travel softball teams.

Gender differences

“Girls need to feel good to play well, and boys need to play well to feel good,” Marino said. “That’s the difference.”

Softball is relatively similar to baseball, except the ball is bigger and the pitching motion is underhand instead of overhand. “The same basic principles apply,” Marino said.

Marino doesn’t really know how Ray used to coach the players. However, Marino does know that some of his yelling thus far has jolted the players a little because they’re not used to the coach being very loud.

“For every one negative thing you say, you need to say 10 positive things,” said Marino, who also coaches varsity bowling. “I have daughters so I know what ruffles girls’ feathers and what you need to do to draw them in. Beating them down isn’t going to work, but I don’t falsely inflate them, either. I tell them how it is.”

Marino is boisterous, but not degrading.

“Kids will always test a coach’s limit,” Marino said. “Are we going to fool around or is this serious? I think these girls understand when there is levity. We’re serious the whole time, but we’re having fun. This is serious fun.”

A few hilarious comments were made by Marino during Monday’s practice, and some players laughed, but Marino’s tone didn’t make it seem like a laughing matter. He’s trying to teach fundamentals.

“He can be really funny at times, but he’s trying to be serious,” Peck said of Marino. “We shouldn’t laugh, but he’s funny.”

Harringan, who will pitch for the Dutch, said, in general, that change is good. “I know we’re going to be a lot more intense than last year,” she said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Cubello said that Guilderland is already better than that team that showed up in the 5-to-1 loss to Shenendehowa in sectionals last year. “That brought back bad memories,” she said of Marino’s mention from earlier. “That’s a foolish mistake that we wouldn’t ever make right now.”

Team chemistry

Over two weeks of practice, Marino said he’s already connected with the players. Guilderland gives out a FATE (Focus Attitude Team Effort) award after every practice. One player will say something nice about another and vise versa.

“The biggest thing is team chemistry,” said Marino. “All the girls get along, work well, and encourage each other. I break the girls into teams and they earn points for things that they do.”

The Dutch don’t have any captains yet, but any player who wants to be considered will be writing a letter to Coach Marino. He’ll read the letters back to the team so they can pick captains. “Nine times out of 10, who they pick will be whom I would pick,” he said.

Guilderland ended Monday’s practice with a throwing, catching, and conditioning drill that Marino picked up while playing baseball for Plattsburgh. The ball was thrown around the bases, but each player had to run to the next base after throwing the ball. Players have to run a full lap around the bases if the ball is dropped.

The Dutch got into a good rhythm during the drill, dropping the ball only twice. “They got very good at it because nobody wants to run,” Marino said. “As you get tired, and the game goes into the later innings, you still have to throw and catch well.”

Marino said that Guilderland will be a successful team this season if “they rise to expectations and believe in themselves.”

“The focus is there,” Cubello said. “We all have a lot of focus and big, high expectations. We can be a strong team.”

Marino is trying to instill his great use of communication into the players, who were far quieter than Marino on Monday. The Dutch’s vocal confidence will build, but it might take a while.

“We need to be aggressive, execute, and play as a team,” Marino said. “We’ll win or lose as a team.”

But, above all, Marino wants to see Guilderland get better as softball players as each day goes by. The Dutch open the season at Columbia on April 2.

“More today as we were yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow,” Marino said. “The players are stock, but different than the market. Stock goes down in the market, but these players will never go down.”

— By Jordan J. Michael

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