Trust in the process: New Windsor softball coach building a bank of trust

  • Windsor varsity softball head coach Kelsey Mason, center, talks to her team between innings during a game against Springfield High School at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • Windsor’s Meagan Holling runs to first base as Springfield’s Izzy Belisle attempts to tag her out during a game at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Windsor varsity softball head coach Kelsey Mason advises her players as they bat while coaching third base during a game against Springfield High School at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2022 10:30:02 PM
Modified: 5/11/2022 10:30:02 PM

WINDSOR — After a car accident cost Kelsey Mason the college softball experience she’d worked so hard for, the new head coach at Windsor High couldn’t wait to be involved with the sport again after graduating.

Mason, a 2016 Hartford High graduate, was hoping to play NCAA Division III softball at the University of New England. But the following January, she was involved in a car accident and injured her lower back, and so Mason spent her four years at UNE away from the field.

“I just wanted to get back in the sport where I could,” Mason said. “I started working here as a health teacher, and then the opportunity opened up, and I was like, ‘Why not?’ ”

Mason, 23, had coached the Hartford Middle School team last season before taking on a full-time teaching job this year at Windsor. All the while, she’s working toward her teaching credentials through a master’s program at Plymouth State University, and she also works at the Gap in West Lebanon, where she’s been employed since high school.

The Yellowjackets program that Mason inherited finished 9-6 in 2021 and reached the VPA Division III semifinals before falling to eventual champion Oxbow. It was Windsor’s first winning season and deepest playoff run since 2015, but 11 of the Jacks’ 15 players were seniors, meaning Mason would have to build things back up nearly from scratch.

Only shortstop Meagan Holling, first baseman Karen Kapuscinski and pitcher Peyton Richardson are back from last year’s roster.

“(Mason) is hard on us like everyone else, and she has love for the game, which is always good,” Richardson said. “She’s patient with all of us. A lot of us have never played at the varsity level, so she takes her time to make sure we’re learning everything.”

Nevertheless, early returns were encouraging for Windsor, which opened with a win at Burr & Burton and a pair of one-run losses to a much-improved Thetford team and a Division II Springfield squad. After a 13-6 victory at Bellows Falls on April 26, the Yellowjackets were back at .500.

But injuries and COVID-19 issues began to take their toll. Windsor has now lost four straight to fall to 2-6 and has allowed at least 16 runs in each defeat during the skid. The last two, both at home, were especially unsightly — a 28-3 loss to Mount Anthony last Saturday and a 25-3 drubbing in Monday’s rematch against Springfield.

“It’s definitely been frustrating, because of course I want all my starting players to be out on the field,” Mason said. “But at the same time, I know I have a good team behind me that will go out there and play with the best attitude they can. Not a bad thing, but it’s kind of defeating.”

Richardson, who was expected to throw the majority of the Yellowjackets’ innings, hurt her arm at Otter Valley on May 3, leading freshman Piper Vivian and sophomore Amber Simonds to face some trial by fire. All three were used in the circle on Monday, although when Richardson was playing first base, a teammate handled her warmup tosses to the other infielders.

As for Mason, she’s hoping to remain at Windsor for several years, saying she has wanted to coach at the varsity level for a while but did not expect to be doing so at just 23 years of age. She added that her youth helps her relate with athletes who are experiencing the same things she did not that long ago.

“I’m able to connect with them on a different level than, say, someone who’s been at the varsity level,” Mason said. “It does hinder me a bit, because sometimes they view me as their friend rather than a coach, but for the most part the relationships and them trusting me in this program is the biggest thing.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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