It’s about more than just a game

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By James Williams / Sports Editor

Long journey (Allison Perez / Photo Editor)

By James Williams / Sports Editor

On a journey striving for success with her team on and off the field over the past decade, Michelle Daddona is in her 13th season as the Riverside City College fastpitch coach.

Daddona has taken the team to the Southern California Regionals eight times in the previous 12 seasons.

In the 2011 season, Daddona coached the Tigers fastpitch team to the program’s second conference title.

Daddona has already made her mark on the college’s program, entering the 2012 season ranking as the Tigers’ all-time winning fastpitch coach.

Despite the success Daddona has had as a coach, she continues to face new challenges and meet new goals with each new season.

“This game is about the girls it is about the players,” she said. “A big responsibility I have is not just winning titles or winning championships but getting these girls to move on to the next level, to places they really want to play at, not just say I got them scholarships somewhere, anyone can do that but getting them to actual schools and colleges they really want to go to and envision themselves playing and succeeding at and living.”

“There is a big difference to me in that aspect than just moving them on, so off the field that is probably my biggest goal,” she said.

Daddona can relate to her athletes and the daily experiences they are facing having been a multi-sport student athlete at Walnut High School in Walnut, California.

She had nine varsity letters in high school, which includes four years of varsity softball, three years of basketball, and two years of volleyball.

Daddona earned four all-league honors, three for softball and one for volleyball. She also earned three All California Interscholastic Federation honors in softball.

Daddona continued her softball career after graduating high school.

She went onto Mt. San Antonio College, Where she earned All-South Coast Conference honors. She then continued her playing career at California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo.

After ending her career on the field at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she spent the next three seasons as an assistant softball coach for the program.

“I was very fortunate, that when I was done playing at Cal Poly, that coach asked me if I would continue on and be one of their assistant coaches, and it kind of shocked me,” Daddona said. “I think coach saw that about me, that I had a good ability to analyze skills and help people with their fundamentals.”

Daddona spent the next three seasons learning and gaining experience as a coach while being in charge of the team’s development, the recruiting and the team’s traveling plans among other things.

“I was able to get my master’s degree while I was helping the program there,” she said.

After completing her master’s degree she wondered what the next step in her life and career was going to be and where it would lead.

“My master’s is done, there was really no need to stay at Cal Poly, I need to move on and get out there on my own, I am ready, so I began applying for all kinds of jobs and the response I got was you did not have enough experience” she said.

After gaining some coaching experience, she went back to the city of Walnut and volunteered as a coach at Pasadena City College, which helped open the door for her next opportunity, to join the coaching staff at RCC.

“The coach at Pasadena actually told the coach that was here prior to me, ‘Hey, I have this girl that wants to volunteer with me but you may want to think about her for your situation,'” she said. “Coach Bev Wimer called, we met and I thought it went okay but I think she really thought I looked too young.”

Daddona was then faced with the choice of taking a job she had applied for at the high school level or continue volunteering to stay at the community college level.

“I interviewed at a high school and I actually got the job but I knew I did not want to coach high school, I knew community college was always the level I wanted to be at for a lot of reasons,” Daddona said.

Daddona spoke with Wimer about the opportunity and what it really would mean to her to coach at the community college level.

“If you give me an opportunity, I will turn down this head coaching job at this high school for $40,000 a year, for the $2,500 coach’s stipends that you have to offer me, you can call me crazy, you can call me naïve, whatever you want to call me but I really know the junior college level is where I need to be at and where I want to be at,” she said.

After hearing back from Wimer, Daddona called the high school back to turn down the offer.

“It just fell into place and then once I just started to just kind of take over and do well, she felt the program was in good hands and it was time for her to move on,” She said.

Daddona continues to keep the program in good hands and continue striving for success.

“I’ve been coaching for 13 years now and I always had a number in my mind, that 15 years would be the most I can put in because I am one of those people that are all in or I cannot be in,” she said.

“I do not know, I did not think I could do more than 15 years because of all the energy, and the time and all the stuff  it takes to run a good program,” she said. “At least, I think for now at this point, I just feel I will take it year by year and see, maybe 15 is still my number or maybe it is 20 or 30.”


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