Fa­ther/daugh­ter duo

Coach­ing team takes over at New­ton High

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

It’s a new be­gin­ning for the New­ton softball pro­gram, as fa­ther/daugh­ter combo Greg Cowan and Ash­ley Coles take over as head coach and as­sis­tant head coach re­spec­tively.

The Rams are com­ing off a solid sea­son that saw them go 9-8 and reach the state play­offs be­fore get­ting bounced in the first round. Cowan is tak­ing over from pre­vi­ous coach Vir­ginia Wa­ters who he served un­der as an as­sis­tant.

En­ter: Coles and Hodge

“Coach Wa­ters was good to me. I helped her over the years. I’ve got my daugh­ter Ash­ley Coles, she’s the as­sis­tant head coach with me. We’ve hired Heather Hodge — she’s a girl that played here lo­cally at East­side High School like my daugh­ter did. She (Hodge) winded up play­ing four years of col­lege so I’ve got two as­sis­tant coaches this time that have four years of col­lege un­der their belt. That’s re­ally help­ing the pro­gram,” Cowan said.

Coles will work with pitch­ers and catch­ers, Hodge with the in­field and out­field and Cowan with the op­er­a­tion as a whole.

“I’ve been work­ing with the girls mostly ev­ery week on pitch­ing,” Coles said. “I haven’t worked too close with the catch­ers be­cause they’ve been play­ing a lot of travel ball so we’ve kind of had times where they weren’t at prac­tice and things like that. Mostly with the pitch­ers we’ve been work­ing just on lo­ca­tion and nail­ing down ex­actly our plans for the sea­son; what pitches to throw when and at what times.”

Coles has sig­nif­i­cant col­le­giate ex­pe­ri­ence as a player. She played two years at Ge­or­gia Perime­ter and two years at Ge­or­gia State. Cowan and Coles be­lieve that ex­pe­ri­ence will ben­e­fit the team im­mensely.

“The best way to learn is by ex­pe­ri­ence and I think I have played so much ball in my life and I’ve seen so many dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Not only will I know how to coach the girls on the field and make decisions, mak­ing calls and things like that, but I also know what the girls are go­ing through,” Coles said.

“I know it can be tax­ing on you when you’re prac­tic­ing ev­ery day and all those things. I know men­tally what kind of work it takes, I know the type of at­ti­tude it takes to go far and deep into the sea­son. I know that it takes a lot of com­mit­ment from ev­ery­one and starts at the top with coach­ing. I think that I have so much ex­pe­ri­ence that I can share my ex­pe­ri­ences and ev­ery­thing that I learned grow­ing up and through col­lege to help these girls get fur­ther,” she said.

All new ev­ery­thing

The Rams have been us­ing the sum­mer to get faster and be­come stronger men­tally. Cowan said that the team is treat­ing the sea­son like ev­ery­thing is new.

“We’re treat­ing ev­ery­thing as new. That’s our motto when we’re com­ing into prac­tice — this is a new time and a new team,” Cowan said.

“I think we’re go­ing to be a more scrappy team this year. We’ve been work­ing re­ally hard this sum­mer,” Cowan said. “We’re work­ing more of the men­tal side of it. We’re go­ing to look like a to­tal dif­fer­ent team. We’re go­ing to have all new uni­forms, the var­sity is go­ing to be decked out. We will look bet­ter in our uni­forms than any team in our re­gion, and prob­a­bly any team around here.”

Al­though look­ing good is nice, Cowan wants the team to play just as good as they look if not bet­ter. The Rams have a young nu­cleus, as they only lost one se­nior from last year and have only two se­niors re­turn­ing.

“They’re go­ing to get the ex­pe­ri­ence. Most of the girls in the sopho­more/ju­nior range were starters on the var­sity last year. We’re only re­plac­ing one se­nior from last year. Ev­ery girl I have other than two fresh­men are the same play­ers I had last year,” Cowan said.

Watch the throne

Cowan ac­knowl­edged the softball throne in New­ton County be­longs to East­side. Cowan said his goal is to com­pete with the likes of East­side and Al­covy.

“My whole thing is we’re build­ing a pro­gram at New­ton County High School, where to be hon­est, we’ve been way be­hind East­side and Al­covy and other schools around. We’re ready to stand up and be reck­oned with too,” Cowan said.

“My goal is to get where we were last year and be com­pet­i­tive. Make it into that first round of state and be com­pet­i­tive in­stead of los­ing two five-in­ning ball games. [We want to] keep the games real close and have a chance to come out with a win in the end if we can,” Cowan said. “Those last two games [last year], that team went through us like we weren’t even there and we wanna make sure we stand up and fight as coaches and play­ers.”

Al­though the two teams are not in the same di­vi­sion, the Rams and Ea­gles will be play­ing each other this year, bring­ing ri­valry to it.

When asked what her role is in help­ing the team reach their goals Coles said, “Be­ing there for the girls and be­ing a motivator. Let­ting them know if you work hard, if you put the time and ef­fort into it and your heart into it you’ll come out bet­ter. Not to let any­one look down upon our pro­gram. The past is the past and we’re mov­ing to a new day. I think this year that we have more tal­ent than we’ve had in the past. I think that us as coaches are go­ing to try to do our best to work the kinks out and uti­lize that tal­ent that we have. I think that with all of that com­bined that we’ll come out do­ing well against those teams."

Headed into the sea­son, Cowan is ex­cited to get to work with his team and see the fruits of their la­bor. He wants them to get back to the play­offs, but with a dif­fer­ent re­sult.

“We’re not re­ally go­ing into it (the sea­son) ner­vous. We’re not go­ing into it too ahead of our­selves think­ing we’re go­ing to run away with games ei­ther. It’s go­ing to be a lot of close games just like it was last year. We just hope this year they go our way,” Cowan said.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to it. We’re go­ing to make all of our home games a 5:55 start, so we can have more fans. We’re look­ing for­ward to hav­ing fans. We’ve got a booster club that’s go­ing to stand be­hind us, we’ve got par­ents stand­ing be­hind us. Our field is in­cred­i­ble, we’re work­ing on our field, it looks great. This is a new be­gin­ning.”

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