Whenever a sports program -- at any level -- undergoes a coaching change, it usually takes several years or more for the team to buy in to its new leader's philosophy and coalesce as a group.
For second-year coach Samantha Walker and her Centennial softball squad, this process proved to be a very short one, as the team took home the Southwest Yosemite and Central Section Division I crowns this spring. Walker's ability to galvanize her group in such a short time frame has made her the BVarsity Softball Coach of the Year.
"The trust part was actually pretty easy," Walker said. "I was at Frontier for four years and won a D-II Valley championship over there my last year. And when I came to Centennial that first year (2012 as an assistant), I knew half the girls because they were friends with the players at Frontier ... it was an easy trust for them to (say), 'OK, she knows what she's doing.' I didn't just walk into that program not knowing what I was doing."
After an up-and-down 2013 campaign, Walker guided her players to a 28-4 record this spring -- which included a perfect 15-0 mark in league play. The Golden Hawks then rolled through the section playoffs, surrendering just one run in four games to capture the program's first Valley title since 2008.
"It was probably the (most fun) and greatest experience I've had thus far as a coach," she said. "It was something special. Especially being the head coach, it was amazing."
-- CAMERON MILLER