North head softball coach Olivia Guin knew before the first pitch of the season this would be her last year leading the Lady Bulldogs’ softball program due to her upcoming wedding.
What she didn’t know was that her very emotional meeting to let her team know about her future shortly before their first game of the season would mold a dream season that will never be forgotten by Guin or any of her players.
Once emotions calmed down, North used the motivation of Guin’s impending departure from the program, striving to win their first playoff series since 2008, to author the program’s best season in over a decade.
Now with their final game in the history books, Guin and her team have made memories while creating a strong legacy that will positively impact the North softball program forever.
“My main reason for having the meeting was to let them know upfront what was going on so that we could all enjoy the season together, but it got more emotional than I thought because I started with these seniors and it’s been very hard to leave these girls,” Guin said. “After the meeting, I told them it would be the last time we talked about it and it was time to play ball from there.”
With a little extra fire in their bellies, North followed Guin’s lead to improve in every phase of the game, which led to the Lady Bulldogs going undefeated in district play for the first time since 2007 and winning 20-plus games in a season for the first time since 2009. Although Guin and her staff helped North’s entire roster improve, and she improved overall as a coach as well, her connection with senior Kaitlyn Derheim is the perfect example of how much she impacted her team this year.
With Guin fully having her back, Derheim put together one of the best seasons in program history to earn District 10-5A MVP, North softball Offensive Player of the Year and the high school’s Distinguished Female Athlete of the Year.
“Playing for coach Guin has been amazing because she just let me be myself and never tried to change anything about me and always just went with me,” Derheim said. “When Guin told us it was her last year, it gave us the spark we needed to take things to another level. The confidence coach Guin instilled in me and the fact she’s a great woman makes it even more special to leave the program with her.”
Although North’s underclassmen won’t reap the fortunes of having Guin as their head coach their entire career, they will be able to showcase their program-changing skills acquired from her next year for whoever is tabbed as the fourth coach of North’s talented program.
“We learned we have to play and care for each other all the time and having to play for a new coach will be hard next season, but we will keep coach Guin’s principles alive and well,” said Natalie Morton, North sophomore.
Guin leaves the program in outstanding shape for whoever follows behind her, after winning 70 games, making the playoffs every season and leading the Lady Bulldogs to the regional tournament. Internally, she leaves with a life-changing experience she didn’t know she was signing up for when being awarded the job at only 21 years of age four seasons ago.
“I’m a better person and a better coach for being around these girls and will forever be indebted for being allowed to coach these group of girls,” Guin said. “I look forward to watching these girls win at life and can’t wait to watch them graduate from college and get married because the bond we’ve built this season will last forever.”