Earning her 278th victory as Elon University softball’s head coach was a large accomplishment for Kathy Bocock, as she became the winningest softball head coach in program history Feb. 19. But what was even better, Bocock said, was the people around her, both her team and coaching staff, who helped her along the way.
“There's a lot of times that people don't get that opportunity in their lifetime,” Bocock said. “For me to get that was great, but it was with the people that were around me that made it really special. Great coaching staff, great players that have been a part of this all along. You don't get there without those people. Granted, it might have been my moment, but it really is about the program and what we've done here.”
Bocock is assisted by the associate head softball coach Mallory Borden and assistant softball coach Taylor Waldrop. Each said they have been playing the sport since they were young and have enjoyed keeping it in their lives.
“For all of us we all got to play it, and coaching is a way for us to still be involved in something that was a big impact in our life,” Waldrop said. “Now we get to keep helping and building softball because it's always growing. Even being the youngest on the staff, it's changed so much in my few years being out of college. It's cool to watch the game grow and be able to be part of that process.”
The trio makes up the only all-female coaching staff at Elon University, as every other sport in some capacity is coached by one or more males. Being a part of this staff is something that inspires them and their athletes.
“It's important for women to be in sports,” Borden said. “We're able to coach females and it's a female role model that these young ladies have.”
This season will be Bocock’s 13th as the head coach, where she previously spent two years as an assistant coach. She had been coaching for 24 years prior to coming to Elon, and said she has loved her career and is proud of her accomplishments.
“It's all about relationships, and I love the game. It's given me the opportunity to be part of the game and to build relationships,” Bocock said. “I was an athlete myself, so to be able to do that for my career, I get up every day very grateful.”
Borden and Waldrop were both brought onto staff by Bocock, and the three work together in a variety of roles to build and improve the Elon program season after season. Waldrop said that being an all-female staff is inspiring, but coaching the sport and helping her athletes is her main priority.
“It's pretty cool to sit and think about our staff, but I've been given an opportunity by coach Bo,” Waldrop said. “She went with who she thought was best for the job and I’m super grateful for that. Every single day I get to come here, I get to do what I love. I've played since I was four years old and here I am still able to do it.”
While Bocock herself did not set out to only hire female athletes, she said that it just so happened that the all-female staff is what works best for her team.
“I have had some males on my staff, which has been fine and they've done a great job, but over the years it's all about who's going to do the job for me,” Bocock said. “Whether it be a female or a male, my assistants are the ones that we hired and they're doing a great job.”
Growing up in a male dominated industry has been challenging for all three at times, but Bocock said she is happy that athletics and the softball industry are continuing to include more and more women in higher positions.
“I have brothers and nephews that have been very active in sport, so for me when I was growing up, my mom and dad never really emphasized the boys or the girls, we were all the same,” Bocock said. “But it is huge because athletics is changing all the time. Softball is a female sport and we want to see more females coaching and really doing well with the sport.”
These powerful female role models have been essential to the success of two Elon seniors: utility players Megan Grant and Carley Davis.
“It's so amazing because not only have they been in our shoes, they understand what we go through on a daily basis,” Grant said. “All three of them played collegiate athletics and they know what it's like to show up here every day and put in the work, and they know the mental processes of our sport.”
Davis said that being a female athlete and coached by females has inspired her throughout her collegiate career.
“It's also empowering being women college athletes seeing what we could do because the coaches do so many great things, and they're very relatable for us on a day to day basis,” Davis said.
Grant echoed Davis, who said she had never had a female coach until she got to Elon.
“It's definitely a shift, but it was a shift in a very positive direction,” Grant said. “Things that you might not be able to talk about with a male coach, you feel truly heard and understood with a female coach. That shift in terms of what they are teaching us isn't necessarily different, but the empowerment that you get from that is truly something that's so special and something that I'm so grateful to have here.”
Grant and Davis both said that they appreciate coach Bocock, Borden and Waldrop for the life lessons and ideals that they have instilled in them, both on and off the field.
“The biggest lesson that coach Bo has given me is the art of communication,” Davis said. “I came in and I was a leader but I wasn't a vocal leader, I didn't really step out of my comfort zone, and she really pushed me to do that last year. She really just wanted me to step up and use my voice in a positive light to lead the team alongside Megan.”
Bocock hopes to continue her inspiring ways throughout her time as head coach of the Phoenix.
“For me, I had people when I was an athlete, I had coaches that helped me through my life and career movements, and general life lessons,” Bocock said. “So I try to give that back now because I had people do that for me and now I'm getting the opportunity to give back.”