‘They push me to do better’: Q&A with middle school softball coach, Natalie Chambers

The+middle+school+softball+team+poses+for+a+photo+with+assistant+coach+Dani+LeNoir+%28left%29+and+head+coach+Natalie+Chambers+%28right%29.+The+team+is+comprised+of+sixth+and+seventh+graders.+At+some+point%2C+the+middle+school+team+diminished+because+the+interest+wasnt+there%2C+Chambers+said.+It+has+been+a+while%2C+so+the+fact+that+we+had+a+lot+of+girls+sign+up+and+really+want+to+commit+themselves+%E2%80%94+I+couldnt+ask+for+anything+more.

Photo credit: Kim Smith

The middle school softball team poses for a photo with assistant coach Dani LeNoir (left) and head coach Natalie Chambers (right). The team is comprised of sixth and seventh graders. “At some point, the middle school team diminished because the interest wasn’t there,” Chambers said. “It has been a while, so the fact that we had a lot of girls sign up and really want to commit themselves — I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

By Alexis David, Staff Reporter

Fitness coach Natalie Chambers has been the head coach of the middle school softball team through this year’s spring sports season. Due to lack of interest in years past, this is the first time in five years Archer has had a middle school softball team. This past season, Chambers coached a team of 13 students and held practice on Archer’s backfield two to three times a week. The team played their last game Monday, May 2, where they lost 5-4 against Crossroads School. The Oracle sat down with Chambers to reflect on the season and discuss the team’s progress.

What was this team’s record this season?

Natalie Chambers [NC]: We were 5-2 to end the season. We lost one game to Crossroads and the other to Westside Neighborhood School. Overall, Coach L [Assistant Coach, Dani LeNoir] and I are pretty proud of the record, considering that we did not have a middle school softball team for quite a while. So to come out with all that energy and talent from all those girls — it was just phenomenal.

What was a typical practice like?

[NC]: At the beginning of the season, a typical practice was [centered around] seeing where the skills were with the girls. We did a huge survey of what their experience was and what positions they were comfortable with. From the data we collected, we determined where we were going to put the girls. As the season started, and after playing games, [we saw] the things [the team] needed to work on. That is what generated where our practices were going to go and what really needed attention. There were times when after a game, [we thought] ‘We need some serious fieldwork,’ so we drilled them on fielding scenarios.

What was your team’s biggest success this season? 

[NC]: Honestly, the camaraderie. There was something about [their] teamwork and the overall dynamic. [We brought] a bunch of different girls with a bunch of different skill sets — some that had no experience, some that had a lot of experience — they would come together in the dugout and they would sing out, cheering with song. There is something very beautiful [about song] that brings the team together. We are family here at Archer.

What is one goal you had at the beginning of the season, and how do you think you have accomplished it? 

[NC]: Working together and having fun. I made it known to Coach Smith that building a feeder into the varsity team was very important. It was extremely important to make sure the girls had a lot of fun and are eager to come back next year. We have a lot of seventh graders, so in two years, the majority of them will be in ninth. They [had] tremendous success, and I see the varsity team in two years winning championships.

What aspect of the team’s progress are you most proud of?

[NC]: After yesterday’s game, I told the girls that I am proud of their success and how they worked as a team. I have coached in the past where the team just did not get along, so the unity and the family atmosphere they have created on their own — I am very proud. They were able to support each other even when they were down [and] bring a smile to each other’s faces, and I am very proud of that.

What has been the most rewarding part of this season?

[NC]: After yesterday’s game, I ran into Ms. Hazell O’Brien. I came into this school year not really excited to coach, which had to do with the pandemic. I lost why it is that I love to coach. After coaching the volleyball season with the middle school girls, it lit that fire, and it reminded me of why I do what I do and why I love to do what I do. I told Ms. Hazell O’Brien that Archer is the reason why that fire was ignited inside myself to be excited to coach again. I do it because I want to make a difference with the girls.