By Heather Fowler
Van-Far Softball Coach
VANDALIA—Coaching is so much more rewarding, and heart breaking, than I ever could have imagined. You learn your players, you walk with your players, you teach, lead and guide them for as much as they are willing to allow you.
From time to time, an athlete really grabs my attention. Mallory Williams is one of those athletes. Her work ethic and dedication to her sport struck and inspired me. Mallory came to Legacy with aspirations of playing softball in college and I promised her that I would guide her and do my best to help that dream become a reality if she would trust me. She did.
Mallory started her softball career playing in the local Khoury League. From an early age, Mallory knew she wanted to be a part of something bigger. She has a memory of going to a Mizzou game and realizing that the girls were representing their school and their state. She knew that she wanted to play for something that she was proud of and wanted to represent something that was important to her.
It was during her time in the Khoury League that she found her place on the softball field as a catcher.
After a few seasons of playing recreational softball she knew she was ready for a bigger challenge. At age 12, Mallory started her competitive softball journey with the NEMO Hotshots. Mallory played under the guidance and instruction of a great coach, Brian Dean. It was while she played for the Hotshots that Mallory found her second home on defense as a third baseman.
I don’t exactly know when Mallory became the power hitter that she is now but this kid’s work ethic and dedication to being the best she can be for her team shines when she steps up to the plate. On March 23, 2019, our team was playing in St. Louis.
That day is one that stands out in my coaching career and likely always will. In game one, Mallory’s first and second at bats she went back to back with out of the park home runs. In game two, her first at bat, she kept the streak going with her third home run of the day. Phenomenal!
But, the most touching thing about that was when I talked to her about it, or tried to talk to her about her amazing feat, she was just thrilled that she was able to do that for her team.
This kid truly sees the “we” in a team not the “me.” Mallory lead her team last season in almost every category on offense. Any time I’d have the chance to work with her one on one, she was there getting the extra swings in, not ever satisfied with where she was. Throughout her competitive and high school softball career to date Mallory has hit an outstanding 30 home runs … and she isn’t done yet!
Mallory played high school softball for Van-Far High School and competed on the varsity squad all four years. Mallory’s time in high school ball was mostly spent behind the plate, calling the game and leading her team. Her sophomore year, Mallory received all district infielder. Her junior year she received all district catcher and all region catcher and her senior year, she ended her high school career appropriately, receiving once again all district catcher.
Before she even played competitive softball she recalls having a talk with her mom about college sports while walking on the campus of Culver Stockton.
It was then that she learned that college sports were a thing and that athletes got money to play in college. Ever since that day, she had the dream of playing college softball.
Last year was the first year that I had the honor of coaching Mallory. She came to Legacy after a weekend guest player spot. She fit right in from day one and we never looked back. Having a player come to me as a junior, who wants to play college ball is always a challenge. There is so much to do to make that goal a reality but this kid did it all.
Everything I recommended, she accomplished. Any suggestions I made, she did. This Tuesday, I will have the honor of watching her officially sign her commitment letter to play college softball for her first choice, Culver Stockton College.
I’m so incredibly proud of Mallory. The athlete she worked so hard to become and the athlete she continues to work hard to improve. She represents Legacy Fastpitch with pride and I firmly believe she represented her town, school and her teammates with that level of “playing for something that she was proud of and wanting to represent something that was important to her” that she dreamed of way back when she first started her journey.
Never forget kid, Out Play, Out Work, Out Last! You make me proud.