Shawn Garrett was named the Division 3 Junior Varsity Coach of the Year for 2017. He led the Golden Eagles to a 6-3 season.
Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
June 26, 2017GILFORD — It is an exciting time in life for Golden Eagles JV softball head coach Shawn Garrett. Not only is he becoming a grandfather with both of his children having children, but he was named Junior Varsity softball coach of the year in his final season with Gilford High School.
"It is certainly an honor," said Garrett. "I know there are a lot of coaches out there who put in a lot of time. I suppose it is a validation for the work I've done but it wouldn't be possible without all the kids and the coaches. That's really what it is all about."
Garrett said this was a unique year for his team, as many of his girls on JV were being brought up to the varsity squad coached by Joan Forge, who he said he is always in contact with. However, this can be tough for a team because they were often not able to practice at full force. Many times there would only be a handful of girls, ranging between five and eight, to practice with. This means they would miss a shortstop or a catcher while practicing.
"A lot of this is explaining and getting the girls to picture what will happen in a game scenario because we don't have all the bodies to truly show game situations," said Garrett.
The fact that the girls on his team were getting varsity experience was helpful for the team, he said. His team practiced in the preseason with the varsity, much of it being in the gymnasium due to rain. It led to a 6-3 record for the JV squad. However, it was a strange season where only two games went five innings.
Garrett said there is an unfortunate side of JV, which was that many of the schools they would try to face didn't have a JV squad and they would need to cancel games.
"Nobody signs up for a sport to practice, they want to get out there and play games," said Garrett. "Not every school had JV so a lot of times our games were cancelled last minute or we just didn't have an opponent to play. One time we went four weeks without a game after the season started."
This added to a crucial part of Garrett's job as a JV coach: keeping the student athletes interested and involved so they would continue to play.
Since the team had a successful season, Garrett said it was easier to keep the players involved.
"This was a young, eager group of girls that have bought into the program overall," said Garrett. "Practicing with the varsity definitely helps because they know what is expected."
Garrett said he has full liberty to change players and put them where he wants, but he said the girls try to practice the same way varsity does to get ready to fill in.
"If the varsity coach says they need a good bunter or pinch runner someday, those girls know that any day they better be ready to go with the varsity," he said.
Garrett said this helped keep the ambition high with his team. He described the team as "unselfish" and said they are a major reason why he was given the award of coach of the year.
Garrett started coaching in 1994 in Alaska. He coached in Oregon until he moved to New Hampshire five years ago. He will be coaching the Nor'Easters this summer before moving back to Oregon. He is going back in time for his first grandchild to be born in August, and he has another grandchild on the way in January.
Garrett coached 14 total teams in the Gilford School District, and 24 in New Hampshire over the five years he has been here. This includes coaching varsity football for several years, middle school basketball and more. In Oregon he also coached club baseball.
"I've coached 60 teams but I think Joan Forge still has me beat," said Garrett.
Garrett said that coaching has been a blessing and a passion of his for many years. He described it as a chance to share with the athletes and families. He said sports can be a great tool for teaching sportsmanship and putting the team before self. They also help with dealing with failure and being humble when winning.
As a child Garrett was shy, and while he played sports he was often a backup. After dealing with a coach that he didn't like because of his vulgar and inappropriate wordings and tactics, he decided he would coach so kids would never have to deal with that.
"I had to get over the shyness first, and maybe I haven't quite yet, but the motivation is the same," Garrett said. "Treat the kids with respect. Learn the lessons of life and have fun."