Vinson enjoys season as head coach
Brookhaven’s coach Mandy Vinson took over the reigns as head coach for the Lady Panthers this season for the first time since former Ole Brook coach Chad Walker stepped down last season.
Vinson, 29, a former 2003 Ole Brook Alumni, entered the season with high expectations of continuing Brookhaven’s strong and rich softball tradition. She was an assistant coach for six seasons for Brookhaven softball.
The Lady Panthers responded and did the things needed to steadily improve offensively and defensively throughout the season.
Through the hard work and tears of her girls, Brookhaven won the Region 5A/6A crown for the second straight year in a row undefeated at 10-0 and qualified for the Class 6A/5A state playoffs. Ole Brook was eliminated in first round by Wayne County in three games.
For her accomplishments, Vinson has been selected as The Daily Leader’s All-Area Slowpitch Coach of the Year for 2014.
“I am really stunned but excited to be chosen as The Daily Leader’s Coach of the Year,” said Vinson. “It is a big honor to be recognized among all these great coaches around this area.”
When asked about her transition from assistant coach to head coach. Vinson stated every thing went smoothly thanks her players and assistant coaches.
“It was a big step having to make the final decisions on things as head coach, but coaching the girls was easy since they already knew me and were comfortable with me. It was also great to have Coach Megan Bateman Case, Coach Tonya Johns and Coach Sabrina Delaughter Smith as my assistants to work with me. We worked really well together.”
Case, Johns and Smith are former graduates of Brookhaven High and played softball at Ole Brook. Vinson mentioned she played with Case and Johns and Smith her first year as an assistant.
“They all have a love and passion for the softball program at Brookhaven. I’m truly blessed to work with them.”
Vinson had several players stepped up in her first year as head coach to have a successful season. In her starting lineup were Kat Wallace, Haley Speaks, Katherine Shell, Jada Henderson, Chantel Quarles, Fallon Brooks, Julianna Porter, Tia Bussey, Rileigh Allen and Danielle Batteast.
Other members on the squad were Shanlya Jackson, Nikesha Finley, Cheyenne Motley, Brittney Richardson, Jadeyn Fuller, A’riyah King, Taveona Roberson, Madison Thompson, Maria Wilson, Marli Peden, Sharquita Cook, Jashunna Finley, Meg Foster, Kyla Henderson, Ayanna McNairy and Madi Miller.
“This was the most fun that I have ever had,” Vinson said. “This group of girls worked hard everyday in practice and in games even though, we did not finish the way we wanted to. Overall, I was pleased with their efforts. Their hard work laid the foundation to where we want to be in the future. These girls learned a lot as a team and did not give up no matter what the situations may bring.
“Over the course of the season, we talked about never giving up,” continued Vinson. “Everyday, the girls did a devotion before each game to get prepare and one that stood out the most to me was Galatians 6:9, which signals that hard work does pay off.”
Vinson expressed great praise on Ole Brook’s community and administration support.
“The community and administration are very supportive of our program,” she said. “Coach Tommy Clopton made sure facility was taken care of and we made some improvements this season. Our stands were always full from our community supporters, and the student body always showed up to support the team as well.”
Outside Vinson’s coaching responsibilities, she is an English III teacher at Brookhaven High School and helps out during other sporting events. Vinson also stated during her off time from school and coaching she loves to play ball and hunt. Vinson mentioned she is planning to have another softball alumni meet for all the area schools in the summer.