HOLLY POND, Ala. — 2021 was another solid year for the Holly Pond Lady Broncos. They finished runners-up in the area tournament and made another trip to the North Regional. Senior Samantha Giles had a lot of fun playing with last year’s team and learned so much in the process.
“Being able to play with a great team like the one last year is honestly a blessing. We taught each other many different things about the game and mostly life itself on and off the field. What I learned the most was to be thankful for the teammates you have because your time together is so short, and you definitely don’t need to take any of it for granted.”
Holly Pond graduated seven seniors from last year’s team but will still have some experience coming back in 2023.
“Losing so many talented seniors this past year will definitely make a big impact on next season. We will have to make lots of adjustments, but I still believe that Holly Pond has plenty of talent left and we will get the job done this upcoming season,” she said. “I learned so much from all the seniors, but the one I learned the most from was Emmaray Spitzer. She will be a huge loss for our team because she was always super positive and acted as an older sister to all of us. I will miss them all so much next season and we will take away everything they taught us and make this season the best one yet.”
Samantha feels blessed to have played for some amazing coaches during her playing career at Holly Pond and has tried to learn as much as she can from them.
“The coaches we have under our softball program are all amazing. Destry Stone was my coach for most of the years and he never let us down. He was always there for us anytime we needed anything. Even when he was coaching, he did anything he could to support us. He reminds us to keep God first and the rest will follow. He’s had a huge impact on my softball career,” she said. “Jason Widner is one of the best coaches we have at Holly Pond. He’s been here my entire high school career and even coached me a little when I was young. He’s definitely been an amazing coach.”
“This past year, we had two new coaches in Emily and Erik Ryan, and they definitely stepped up. Emily is always working her tail off to make sure we are eating before games, have rides to games, and making sure we have everything ready and set to take the field. She’s like a mother to all of us and she is definitely a favorite of mine. Erik is our first base coach and is always cracking up jokes to make me laugh. The amount of times I have face planted into first base is embarrassing, but he is always telling me to get up and that you’re fine. That always makes me laugh. Our coaches play a big role in our program at Holly Pond and I’m thankful. I love each and every one of them.”
Samantha has taken away so much from the upperclassmen she’s played with and plans to use what she learned from them to help out the younger players.
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to play with some of the best softball players I know. Most of them taught me how to be really tough and how to be confident in the way I play. There were many upperclassmen from the past, but one that sticks out to me is Ashley Duke. She was a senior when I was a freshman and she guided me through everything I need to know and was always motivating me to do better. Now that I’m a senior, I think it’s super important for me to be the “older sister” to the upcoming players,” she said. “I hope I can teach them anything they want to know about softball. I hope they know that if they have any questions about anything, even if it isn’t softball-related, that they can come to me. My goal is to make each younger player play with confidence and to play to their full potential.”
Samantha has been playing in several tournaments across three states this summer to help out polish her game as much as possible before Holly Pond’s season gets underway in the spring.
“In the summer, I play softball for my travel team, Adiktiv. We travel all across Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia to play in all kinds of different tournaments. Doing this, I hope to become a better player and hopefully achieve an athletic scholarship to play softball in the future,” she said. “Holly Pond has had the opportunity to do workouts for Steve Johnson over the summer. These workouts are great for our athletic programs at Holly Pond. I can definitely see improvements already.”
Samantha has set some big goals for herself and her teammates this upcoming season.
“My goals for the year are to win county and area so that we can advance to regionals again. We have gone to regionals every year I’ve played for varsity, and it would be awesome to go again for my senior year. It’s going to be different this year because we got bumped down to 2A and our area games will be interesting, but we can definitely get it done.”
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