COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Brandon Jenkins and the Northside Patriots have had to kind of restart things over the past few weeks.
They’ve been the dominant softball team in town for the past few years, but thanks to the pandemic, the Patriots head coach said they’re now playing from behind due to no organized spring workouts and no summer travel ball for the girls.
“Probably the biggest problem that we’ve had is all these girls, when they come in in the summertime, they’ve been playing since March, so now it’s like starting over,” Jenkins said. “It’s kind of like baseball season, where they’re coming out of Christmas break and you’re having to teach a lot of new things, you’re having to get them to hit again where they haven’t hit in three or four months, and throw and pitch, so it’s kind of starting over.”
“We got in the weight room in January,” Jenkins continued. “We were doing early morning workouts before school. We do that basically until August the first, so we had to shut down in March, and it was huge for our program because that’s where we get better. As we say every year, that’s where you win. You win championships in the offseason, not during the season.”
However, Jenkins likes the way his team has responded to the challenge.
“The girls have been great. They’re very coachable. We’re having to run practices a little longer every day, almost three hours instead of the normal two, but they’re all ready to go. They’ve been sitting on the couch not doing anything and so they’ve been very coachable and learning and picking up pretty quick.”
Having a team full of self-starters is a big deal, especially after losing four key players from last season through graduation. Bringing home a state title three years ago helped create a culture of winning, which is huge in a situation like this.
“Culture of winning plays a big part. We have been fortunate. I’ve got a great group of girls come through here over the years, and in my opinion I have the best assistant coaching staff in the state, so that helps. The girls know what that tradition means and they want to carry that on. We haven’t had it in three years – been very close in four years of winning it all, so these younger girls are ready to start their own legacy and win one, too.”
The Patriots are scheduled to open the season with a home game versus Marion County on August 7.