New Britain City Journal

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The Sports Journal

Coach Simmone to Lead Softball Team

The New Britain High School Girls’ Softball team is gearing up for another season but will have a much different look than in years past. The change began at the top several months ago when Joel Simmone was named the head coach of the Varsity team.

After coaching baseball at the high school for 26 years, Simmone decided to make the switch to softball when the Varsity position became open. Despite the fact that he has coached baseball for so long, he has been doing everything he can to get up to speed on softball and the different nuances of the game.

“I coached my two daughters while they were growing up so I am very familiar with the game. Since this past summer, I have read numerous books and watched hours of videos to help educate myself. I’m still learning. That’s where my assistant coaches come in,” he said. “They have a plethora of knowledge. Every day has been a learning experience for me.”

While the Lady Hurricanes have always had some talented players, they’ve never been able to get over the hump. This is evidenced by the fact that the team has lost over 20 games since 2011. Simmone hopes that a breath of fresh air will change the past history.

“I always had an appreciation for the game. The program has been struggling a bit as of late and I saw this as an opportunity to inject some passion with a different approach and philosophy. Mr. Corto and I had a conversation as well as with my family and we all decided to give it a shot.”

Simmone knows he has his hands full with the job that he has been hired to do.

“We need to improve on all aspects of the game. The majority of these girls have been working hard since September. We need to catch the ball and decrease the errors. On offense, we need to be able to bunt, steal bases and move runners,” he said. “Attitudes need to change because losing is no longer acceptable. We will lose but we need to care when we win and when we lose. There will be no more going through the motions here. The expectation is that we win eight games this year and make the state tournament. People are telling me I’m crazy but we will see. I have confidence in these girls.”

While this year’s team has quite a few talented players, Simmone refuses to single any one of them out. Instead, he prefers to see the team as one unit that comes together with every girl playing a key part in the success of the program.

“From the Varsity to the JV level. It is critical that all of the players buy into the philosophy of what we are trying to accomplish. We have an extremely young and inexperienced team. Right now, it looks like we will start one senior, which we have no problem with. If we can start a couple of freshman and four sophomores on Varsity, think of the future experience we will have at the Varsity level.”

Simmone knows though that he won’t be able to change the program overnight. It will take months to change the culture around the program but he has no doubt in his mind that he is the right person for the job. He has formulated a long-term plan to accomplish this goal.

This includes getting as many girls to play in the fall league, having work out sessions during the winter, encouraging the girls to get private lessons in the offseason and encouraging the girls to play against better competition during the summer.

Simmone also hopes to increase the relationship with New Britain Little League as well as the middle schools to spark an interest in softball. He plans to hold clinics for the young girls and coaches while teaching them their philosophy so the transition to high school would be easier.

Of course, money is also a huge factor when determining the success of a program. Having more money means more resources that are available. He hopes to hold various fundraising events such as the reunion dance that was held last year after Thanksgiving. Simmone welcomes any help that is offered in this area.

While all of this seems very exciting, Simmone knows that everyone, including him, needs to be patient.

“This season, we would love to win a conference title and go as far as we could in the state tournament but right now we need to take it slow and get to work!”

The Lady Hurricanes will open the season on Wednesday, April 9 at 3:45 p.m. at Manchester High School. Their first home game will be on Monday, April 14 against Hartford Public at Martha Hart Park at 6 p.m.