High School Sports

Generals' therapy session helped put softball season in perspective

The only thing the Lafayette players knew was they were supposed to meet at a local church at a specific time.

Their coaches had given them no other guidance or instruction.

"I thought we were there to get baptized or something," senior Lauren Mitchell said laughing.

Not exactly, but what happened in that meeting room at the church turned into a renewal of sorts for the Generals, who will start their quest for a state softball title Thursday in Owensboro.

The Generals players were met in a room by a counselor.

Not even the coach's daughter and star pitcher knew what was about to happen.

Then they heard the word.

"Therapy?" Cassidy Taylor said she remembered thinking. "What is this?"

It was therapy — family and group therapy for a team that had its share of ups and downs all season.

"I couldn't believe they were sending a softball team to group therapy," Mitchell said.

It was the week before the 11th Region Tournament and Lafayette's coach knew some things had to change if the team wanted to achieve its goal of making it to state.

Lafayette had just finished a brutal stretch of games that included losses to several teams ranked among the state's top 10.

"We have a lot of strong personalities who take their softball seriously," Coach Dana Taylor said. "There was a little bit of tension with our team because we played so many difficult games there at the end."

Taylor said one of the player's fathers — a family counselor himself — suggested therapy might be beneficial. He has a friend that specializes in this sort of thing.

At Lafayette's counseling session, there were team bonding discussions, trust-building exercises and blindfolded activities used to promote teamwork and leadership.

"It was fun the way he got us to work together and rely on each other," senior first baseman Alyssa Oakley said.

Some of it was fun.

Some of it was serious.

"We talked about being a servant leader and sacrificing what you think needs to happen for the betterment of the team," Cassidy Taylor said.

The seniors said they learned about one another and about themselves at the same time.

They talked about being positive in the face of adversity, which is bound to come in the post-season.

"We worked on telling people what they did well instead of putting people down," Mitchell said. "It's about building your teammate up."

Lauren Brockman, another senior, agreed.

"It didn't seem like a great idea at first, but it helped us realize how strong we really were and how strong we could be if we worked together," Brockman said.

The counseling session already has come in handy, the players said. In the first round of the region tournament last week, there was a long delay as coaches argued a call.

Fans on both sides were screaming.

Instead of focusing on the fans and the coaches and the noise around them, the Generals huddled around one another and focused on themselves.

"We just stayed calm and leaned on each other," Mitchell said.

This one session helped the team put things in perspective. Even though none of them is related, they really are like a family, and sometimes a family needs to sit down and talk things out, they said.

"They bicker like sisters, and they love each other like sisters," Coach Taylor said. "They maybe needed to be reminded how much they love each other."

As seniors, it was an especially important lesson learned at just the right time.

"For a while there we took for granted what we had, and then it hit us all at once this is the end," Brockman said. "This is all we've got. This is our last chance to do something special."

They would love for that something special to include a state championship, which would be a first for a team from the 11th Region.

"When we win a state title, maybe then everyone will want to take their team to group therapy," Cassidy Taylor said with a smile.

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