Penn-Trafford graduate savors NCAA softball title as assistant
After spending one season as an assistant coach for the Penn-Trafford softball team, Marissa Myers noticed an Internet listing for an assistant job at Division III Tufts University.
The 2006 Penn-Trafford graduate, a self-described fan of the Boston Red Sox, decided to throw her hat in the ring for the job at the Boston-area university.
“I took a shot in the dark and applied,” she said. “I've always loved the city of Boston, so I decided just to apply and see what happened.
“No sooner did I apply than I got a call for an interview.”
That interview eventually led to Myers getting the job, which she started before the 2012 season.
The bigger prize came this season, as Tufts captured the NCAA Division III title, defeating SUNY-Cortland last month in the championship game in Eau Claire, Wisc. It was the first national championship in program history, coming one season after the Jumbos finished fifth at the national championship.
“Last year, we went in and I guess you could say (we were) starstruck,” Myers said. “It was the first time Tufts had been back to the national championships since 2009. We kind of got there on the arm of our freshman pitcher (Allyson Fournier) last year, just kind of enjoying the moment.
“This year, our pitcher was a sophomore, so she wasn't as timid. She kind of just took us through each game, along with our senior shortstop (Emily Beinecke) and junior catcher (Jo Clair).”
As assistant to head coach Cheryl Milligan, Myers worked primarily with Tufts' catchers and infielders and helped Milligan coach the hitters.
She worked closely with Clair, who hit .417 with 13 home runs and 51 runs batted in for the Jumbos.
“It's safe to say she's one of the best catchers in the country,” Myers said. “She was just a brick wall behind the plate and an offensive powerhouse.”
Myers was a four-year starter behind the plate for Penn-Trafford from 2003 to 2006 and went on to play all four years at Clarion.
After her graduation, she returned to the area and spent 2010-11 as a long-term substitute at Harrison Park Elementary and an assistant coach for the Penn-Trafford softball team.
The jump to Division III softball was “exciting,” she said.
“The game is a lot faster,” she said. “A lot of people don't understand Division III softball, but Division III softball in the New England region is not like the Division III softball in Western Pennsylvania. It's very competitive. There's a lot more teams. It's a much bigger division, especially in the New England region.”
Myers is spending the summer helping her father, Chuck, coach her sister Micala's under-16 travel softball team, the Pittsburgh Predators.
“I've learned so much from her over the last couple of years,” said Chuck Myers, the softball coach at Gateway High School. “She brings home things that she learns because she's on that circuit on the college level. She's attending the national conventions, and she's bringing new things, new styles, new terminology (and) new drills home. Then I, in turn, incorporate them into my daily practice routine.”
While she's enjoyed her time at Tufts, Myers said she's looking to branch out and become head coach somewhere else sometime in the future.
For the time being, she's still an assistant at Tufts and is enjoying the benefits of the Jumbos' championship run.
Those benefits included an honor from her favorite baseball team, as the Red Sox recognized the Jumbos in a pregame ceremony before a game against the Texas Rangers last week at Fenway Park.
“We went back on the field, and they showed a nice little slideshow on the Jumbotron and announced us,” Myers said.
“The kids were really excited. A lot of hard work went into winning the national championship, so for them to get a little reward, as small as it is going to a Red Sox game, it was really rewarding.”