Baseball Coach Proves She Belongs, Her Players Have No Doubts
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Sports have a sound all their own.
You could close your eyes and know the type of game you’re at just by listening.
On the baseball fields for Salt Lake’s little league games, there’s another sound players and fans are used to besides the ping of aluminum bats.
It’s a voice.
Many players say they know that voice as soon as they hear it.
“When we were in Little League, we were all scared of her because she had this intensity that none of the other coaches had,” said baseball player Noah Rice with a laugh.
That voice is Julianna Ahrend.
“I love base hits,” Ahrend yelled during a recent practice.
“You guys, that was pretty good,” she said to the team during a well-executed defensive play.
Ahrend has been involved with Little League baseball for years.
Not just as a fan or as a baseball mom.
She’s a coach.
A head coach.
“I can’t sit on the sidelines. I just need to be out there,” said Ahrend with a laugh.
During a practice in Salt Lake City recently with her 14-year old Eastside All-Star team, Ahrend wore a glove while giving tips to batters trying to make better contact with pitches.
“Wait for it. You got to wait for it,” she said to one of her players in the batter’s box. “Use your whole body, not just your arms.”
The first thing you’ll notice is her intensity.
Her players sure do.
“Well, she really plays to win and that’s a good thing,” said Diego Esparza, who is one of the players on the team.
However, the first thing many other people notice is she’s not your typical baseball coach.
“I get a kick out of when other coaches give their lineup card to one of my male assistants and they tell them that I’m the coach,” said Ahrend with another one of her joyous laughs. “You know, there’s not a whole lot of other ladies out there doing this. That’s for sure.”
Many also believe she’s also the first female coach to qualify a team to the Pacific Southwest Regional baseball tournament in California.
“That’s what they’re telling me,” she said with another laugh. “For me, I’m just out here playing ball teaching them a couple things.”
When it comes to baseball fundamentals, her players say she’s as good as anyone.
“She really helped us get to this level,” said Luke Jones, who is one of the players on the All-Star team. “She’s really motivating.”
During practice, Ahrend will often pause the action in order to make sure her players understand how to properly field a ground ball, who’s backing up who on throws, and where the ball should be thrown with runners on base.
“She teaches us these drills that are very beneficial in game,” said Rice.
Ahrend is proof that when it comes to proper technique and execution, it doesn’t matter if you’re a male or female coach.
Especially when you have the respect and trust of your players.
“I honestly don’t even think about her as a female coach,” said Esparza. “To be honest, I think coach Julianna is probably more vicious than any male coach you’ll ever see out here.”
That may be true.
However, for Ahrend, she’s not too concerned about being a good female coach.
She just wants to be recognized as a good coach.
“There’s no reason for you to ever have gender be a reason that you can’t do something,” she said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Just go out there and do it.”
She’s a voice players listen to.
And one they’ll never forget.
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