Plum grad Seneca tackles first season as assistant softball coach at La Salle
Last spring, La Salle outfielder Emma Schweigert, then a junior, discovered a viral video of St. Francis (Pa.) shortstop Jordan Seneca clubbing a towering home run against LIU Brooklyn. Schweigert sent the video to a friend with a message that this is what she wanted to do in her senior year.
A Light Tower Shot by Saint Francis U’s Jordan Seneca pic.twitter.com/F8F9BihsK6
— Re2pect✊ (@iLetsPlayBall) May 12, 2018
Little did she know she would be trying to create highlights while the star of that video watched from the dugout.
Seneca, a Plum grad and Red Flash record-setter, is in her first season of college coaching. She was hired as an assistant in September by second-year Explorers coach Brooke Darreff.
Seneca connected with La Salle through former SFU teammate Ketarah DeVries, who knew Explorers pitching coach Karlyn Buker through their work at softball clinics. When Darreff was looking for another assistant, DeVries told Buker of Seneca’s interest in coaching.
Darreff contacted Seneca, and their connection was instant.
“We just kind of hit it off,” said Seneca, who had been coaching a 14U travel team. “We finish each other’s sentences half the time now, and I feel like we were doing that on the phone (interview) as well.”
Darreff said their initial conversation focused on changing the culture at La Salle, which hasn’t had a winning season since 1997. She knew Seneca was a big part of turning St. Francis from an also-ran to a back-to-back Northeast Conference champion.
“Culture is a large piece of taking over a program,” Darreff said. “Adding Jordan to our staff has added to our focus of that winning culture. That was extremely important knowledge to bring to these girls.”
Seneca’s responsibilities include instructing the hitters — a duty she shares with Darreff — coaching first base and overseeing the outfielders. But it wasn’t easy to make a rapid shift from being a player to being an authority figure for players who are so close to her age.
In fact, she is only three days older than Schweigert.
“At first, I wanted to be really hard on them about making sure they know, ‘I’m not your friend. I am your coach, but I still want to relate to you,’ ” Seneca said. “It just comes down to building relationships and getting on the same page.”
Said Schweigert: “I don’t think it was hard to accept or weird. She brings a level of intensity that sets the tone, and she demands that respect and has that authority.
“But on a personal level, she’s easy to talk to. She knows what I am going through as a senior because she just went through it last year.”
The other area Seneca said she needed to work on was patience. She said she sometimes gets frustrated having to repeat instructions to players but is beginning to realize repetition is part of the teaching process.
She also must exercise patience with the program as a whole. The quick turnaround at St. Francis was, she said, “kind of a freak thing,” and transforming La Salle might take longer.
The Explorers have had their share of challenges this season, entering the week at 6-18 (1-5 Atlantic 10). Seneca, however, remains confident the program will grow and she along with it.
“I’m loving it, and every day is a new learning experience for me,” she said. “Sometimes, I have to find things out the hard way. I’m just trying to do a good job of learning and staying positive.”
Added Schweigert: “You can’t tell this is her first year coaching (in college). She fits right in and has a lot to say after games and a lot of good feedback.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .