Grand Canyon club softball will be returning with unfinished business.
With only three returning players last season and a new head coach in Lindsey Collins, the team thought they would be in rebuilding mode. Despite early struggles, the team rallied together to catch fire and carry the momentum all the way to the World Series in Georgia.
When reflecting on the growth on her players, Coach Collins eloquently described the bond that has been built and the success that has been achieved.
“Last season I didn’t have any expectations,” Collins said. “We came out slowly, but everything just started clicking. The chemistry on this team is incredible and in my thirteen years of coaching this was my dream team. They all work so well together and no one tried to outshine the other in any way. It was the first time in my career I have seen a method of position sharing working.”
Collins’ high praise for her team was equally reciprocated when talking to third baseman Bri Gainer and center fielder Bobbi Fry. “It was my first year on the team, and from the start Lindsey was extremely welcoming,” Gainer said. “We all wanted to make it to the World Series and she really helped us get there. Our success came for the camaraderie of the team.”
Gainer went on to speak about her time at GCU and her expectations for the program moving forward. “Playing club softball improved my whole college experience because it doesn’t end at just teammates; we are all family,” Gainer said. “It’s nice to play where it’s not as stressful as an NCAA program, but just as rewarding when you put in the work and win. Next season, we need to work harder in practice and maintain the same attitude to stay level-headed to win it all.”
As for Fry, she has seen the progress from day one having transferred from another university to GCU the same year the softball program started.
“Because everything was so new we didn’t know how it would all work together,” Fry said. “Once we realized that we could match-up against everyone and work together, we got better and our expectations got higher. Our main goal was to make it to the World Series and let everyone know who GCU was.”
Going back to the type of coach Collins was, Fry also spoke on how comfortable she felt being around her.
“Off the field she is relaxed,” Fry said. “She’s one of us, hanging out and having fun, and we all loved having her around. On the field she can be intimidating because she truly pushes us to be the best we can possibly be. She’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had and I love this team; I have a new family I wasn’t expecting to have.”
Collins, who previously coached on the high school level, was enticed to coach GCU by two major aspects: having the chance to win on a higher level and guiding young women through the beginning stages of adulthood.
“Culture wise the transition from high school to college is amazing,” Collins said. “Guiding and mentoring college girls is something that I truly wanted. Answering life questions is incredibly fulfilling and as a coach it makes you feel wanted to be sought out so much.”
Collins also spoke on the future of the program and how to continue winning.
“Ever since we got back from the World Series I’ve sent out 100 emails to prospects who all want to come play at this program. Our success from last year is doing all the recruiting. My returners who built the culture will maintain it and make sure everyone is out there for the right reasons.”
Grand Canyon University club softball is no longer a new program searching for identity. Instead, the monumentally improved team will rise their expectations even a step further and aim to win it all the upcoming season.