Not only has 2020 brought upon many changes in the world, but it also brought upon big changes within the Greenville University Softball Program. This year the GU Softball Team acquired a new coaching staff. Angela Sheets is now the head coach of the program.
Coach Sheets is an alumna of Greenville University. Transferring from Illinois Central College, Sheets started her GU softball career in the Spring of 2010. During her time at Greenville, Sheets was coached by Brian Reinhard and Tenequa Martin. In 2012, after pitching for GU for three years, Coach Sheets graduated with a major in psychology. Later, in 2018, Sheets received her master’s degree in clinical mental health from Bradley University.
Upon her graduation, Sheets received a call from her former high school coach, Jeff Smith. He was the head coach at Peoria Christian High School in Sheets’ hometown, Peoria, Illinois. Smith asked Sheets to take over the high school softball program at PCHS. Sheets agreed and served as head coach there for eight years. Along with her eight years of experience at the high school level, Sheets coached the middle school team, a few travel teams, and taught private lessons.
Earlier this year, the experienced alumna received a phone call from Greenville University’s Athletic Director, Tom Ackerman. Ackerman encouraged Sheets to apply for the open head coach position. A few months later, Sheets was offered the position and officially became the head coach of the GU Softball Team.
The new head coach gifted the Lady Panthers with some changes and a different style of coaching. Sheets explained that her career path has influenced and helped her coaching. With her degree in psychology, she is able to bring a focus on positivity and mental health to the game. Coach Sheets believes in being positive and viewing her players as humans first, then student-athletes. This philosophy has resulted in change within the GU Softball Program, according to Sheets. She believes that there has been a change in the mental atmosphere of the team and the mindset of her players. In just the few months as the new head coach, Sheets has been able to see how her players have improved and become unafraid and fearless of failure.
“Looking back on it now, I am so thankful for the career path I chose, and the vocation that I chose was psychology and mental health counseling. I think that education combined with coaching is a really unique but effective combination. I practice more of a positive psychology approach… My focus is on the person as a whole. I care about each athlete as a human first and a student-athlete second. I think, as a coach when we focus on the human first and make sure that you’re in a good spot mentally, it’s going to improve the physical aspect; it’ll improve everything,” stated Sheets.
Coach Sheets is excited for what’s in store for the GU Softball Program. She hopes to grow it and maintain a roster of twenty-five athletes. She explained how growing the team will create many opportunities. These opportunities include a deeper pitching roster and hitting lineup, individual growth, and more strategic game plans when playing opponents. Sheets also hopes for a winning season. She wants to win, but also make them enjoyable and fun wins.
With a new head coach and new coaching philosophies, let’s wait and see what great things the Lady Panthers Softball Team accomplishes in the Spring of 2021.