Maurepas didn’t have to go very far to find its next softball coach.
Gabby Felps, who served as an assistant with the high school team and was head coach of the school’s junior high program the past two seasons, is the new high school coach, Maurepas principal Kenny Kraft said Tuesday.
Felps, a former player at Maurepas, St. Amant and Louisiana -Lafayette, takes over for Renell Gunter.
“It’s very exciting,” Felps said. “I’m ready to give my knowledge that I’ve had and all the experiences I’ve had in my past to the program, so we can build a program.”
One of the main goals is to get the Maurepas program back on track after the Lady Wolves finished as the Class C runner-up in 2017.
“It’s going to take some time to develop, but I’m big on trusting the process, and I kind of know what it’s going to take,” Felps said. “I’ve played the game at the highest level. I’ve been very fortunate to be around very good coaches since a very young age, so I’ve seen what good coaching is. I’ve seen how good practices are run. It may take a while. It may work quick. But my goal is to make sure that this works quick … I know one thing. My goal is to build a solid program here.”
Felps and Kraft said a big part of turning the program around could lie with the program’s younger players.
“That junior high group is definitely be a help coming into high school because they already know my personality, my coaching style, how I run things and what’s expected,” Felps said.
Said Kraft: “We’ve got a lot a lot of young kids, especially at the junior high level, who have a lot of talent, ability. Hopefully as they get older and mature, then they can step in and get our program back to where it needs to be.”
“We’re looking optimistic for our future because of all the young talent we’ve got,” Kraft said. “Hopefully everything works out, and I truly believe it will.”
The Lady Wolves went 3-22 and made the Class B playoffs this season with a roster that featured three seniors, no juniors, one sophomore, seven freshmen, one eighth-grader and five seventh-graders.
“I think some things that we’ve got to work on to turn things around is just going back to the basics, working on the fundamentals and just working on the overall knowledge of the game,” Felps said. “We do have a young team. Baseball and softball, it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent of actually doing it. I think what it’s going to take is making the girls more mentally tough and then teaching them the game and then working on those fundamentals. I think we’re perfectly capable of being great because everybody has potential.”
Felps has worked with the team, which she and Kraft said is a plus in changing coaches.
“You have to have that relationship with them so that they trust you, they’re willing to learn and be engaged every practice,” Felps said. “If they don’t see that you’re bought in, it’s hard for them to be like, ‘if she’s not bought in, then why should I be bought in?’”
Added Kraft: “You know how it is these days, it’s very hard to find coaches, especially young, energetic, knowledgeable coaches, so we were very fortunate to have her on staff to make that easy transition.”
“She’s going to bring structure, discipline, knowledge – all those wrapped into one,” Kraft continued. “That’s what you want in a good coach, and she brings all those elements to the table, so we’re looking for a bright future for our program.”
Felps said she also has an idea of how she’d like the Lady Wolves to play.
“I’m looking for a team that’s going to be a team full of grit,” Felps said. ”They’re going to compete from the first pitch until the last pitch, and they’re going to compete every single pitch in between.”
Felps said she won’t be wasting any time getting started.
“I’m very anxious,” she said. “Softball season’s always year-round for me. I always remember in high school, and even in college, even after we were finished it was always within the next couple of days right back at it. That’s what it’s going to take to build a program.”