The Miners reported for the first day of the spring semester on Thursday morning, with head coach T.J. Hubbard orchestrating his first practice in the Orange and Blue.
Coach Hubbard was hired as the third head coach in UTEP softball history last month on December 11. Today was his first opportunity to get on the diamond with his squad, and both him and the team were ecstatic to take the field.
“Today, the excitement and enthusiasm was great in our first session back,” Hubbard said. “I had a chance to meet the girls this morning, and have some brief introductions. The excitement and buzz on the field was awesome. The team is ready to get after it and I am excited to be here.”
Senior first baseman Bryanna Molina shared in the excitement, and was ready to begin with a clean slate in her final season for UTEP.
“It is awesome to be back,” Molina stated. “I think all of us during the break were texting each other and saying how bored we were, and how we wanted to get back out on the field. We couldn’t wait to start fresh. Since we have a new coach there is a fresh and new feel to the game. We are excited to be back.”
With a new coach comes a new system. Both Hubbard and the players are making this transition into new practice styles, terminology and routines. This comes with its fair share of adversity, but Molina knows this is nothing herself and the team can’t handle.
“It’s different but it is something that we can handle and get through,” Molina said. “We have to learn him and the way he coaches. He also has to learn the way we play. This is what practice is for though. We are ready to learn new things and get ready for the first game. We want to take it slow and take it step-by-step. We will get through it together.”
Coach Hubbard is singularly focused on pouring the foundation for the relationships he will have with his new team. As the Miners approach their first game less than a month away, Hubbard is emphasizing communication, relationships and trust building above all else.
“Some of the biggest points for me from a coaching perspective will be to really emphasize communication,” Hubbard said. “We are just getting to know each other, and obviously we are in a new place. We are trying to make the environment as comfortable, yet challenging, as possible so that they are prepared to play come February 7. The main focus is relationships, communication and being able to trust one another. Those are the three key points I am trying to focus on right now.”
The team is learning one another day-by-day, but will lean on the game they love to help bridge any gap that arises over the next month. The new era of UTEP softball is here, and the 2020 team is up to the task.
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