For nearly 20 years, Brittany Welch bled black and gold — from her days playing third base at Plano East to cheering for her alma mater while in college and later returning as an assistant coach for the Lady Panthers’ softball team.
Earlier this month, she traded in those colors for Plano Senior’s maroon and white — and did so, for the first time in her career, as a head coach.
“Now that I’ve had a chance to sit back and breathe a little bit, it really is a dream come true,” Welch said. “It’s something that I’ve worked to get since playing and graduating college. My dream was to always come back and coach in Plano ISD … and to have this next chapter open up is really exciting.
“I feel like I’m ready and it feels good to have the hard work pay off and be in this position.”
Named head coach of the Plano softball program, Welch has 11 years of coaching experience to look back on, plus productive high school and college careers on the softball diamond. For the past five seasons, she coached at her alma mater — serving as an assistant under East’s Karen Kalhoefer and Cindy Mosteller.
“Words cannot describe how much influence those two have had on my professional career,” Welch said. “Getting to play for coach Kalhoefer was huge exposure and then moving into the assistant role for both her and [Mosteller], helping craft the coaching side of the game and getting the opportunities to succeed and helping me when I fell short.
“I learned something new everyday and learned how to handle so many different situations, whether it be with other coaches, players and parents. I’m forever in debt to those two for what they taught me and I know they’re still in my corner.”
Naturally, those two were vital in Welch’s decision to take the next step of her coaching career — she said she talked with both upon learning that Justin Pipak, after two seasons at the helm of Plano softball, was stepping down from his post to be a full-time elementary teacher. The encouragement Welch received from both coaches contributed to her decision to apply for the job, helping spur momentum toward the biggest move in her career.
Even after the fact, Welch recalled the shock felt upon getting the phone call and subsequent job offer from Plano principal Sarah Watkins.
“When I saw the number pop up on the phone, my heart sank immediately because I knew it was coming from Plano,” Welch said. “I had no idea how the phone call was going to go and then when Miss Watkins offered me the job as the next head coach, it was just instant joy and excitement.”
Welch takes over a Lady Wildcats’ program that has been as consistent as any in PISD over the years — having made the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons, advancing to the UIL state tournament twice and capturing five district championships during that span.
“Anytime that we had the opportunity to play a team like Plano, it was always a fight,” Welch said. “I’ve always respected their competition, effort and resilience. You knew whenever Plano stepped on the field, it was going to be a great game.
“The tradition the school has is something I value and something I’m excited to continue. The championship mindset is there and I want to continue that.”
Welch looks back on her time as a player — be it in high school with East or in college at Louisiana Tech and Angelo State — and a coach as instrumental in helping shape a philosophy centered on making sure her athletes leave the program better than when they entered.
“The goal is to help them develop their softball skills and, more importantly, help develop them into better people,” Welch said. “There are so many things that softball has taught me that I’ve adapted into everyday life and playing sports has molded me into the person I am.”
Welch gets to begin putting that into practice with the Lady Wildcats fairly soon. Numerous softball players are currently participating in the school’s strength and conditioning program, led by The Performance Course, and Welch said the team will begin softball-specific skill work next week.
She’ll do so with a roster that returns half of its 2020 ensemble, looking to pen a new chapter after graduating six players with at least three years of varsity experience. Plano’s also making the move to a new district, joining 6-6A with Lewisville ISD, Coppell, Plano West and, of course, East.
“They were excited for me,” Welch said of a recent visit with her East family. “They told me that they wished me all the best except for two games next year. I told them that I wouldn’t expect it any other way.”