By Tom Mauldin
For Fastpitch Northwest - 3/1/2020
“Pride plus passion produces positive performance with proper preparation.”
A lot of prospective softball players have heard that saying during the last 10 years of Fastpitch Northwest’s Prospect Evaluation Camps and College Exposure Tournaments.
It’s a saying long-time softball coach Tom Mauldin uses often. Some believe it is his life motto.
“It (the quote) pretty much sums up all things,” said Mauldin, Fastpitch Northwest assistant director. “It really doesn’t get much more basic than that. If you are passionate about something and have pride in what you do, you will prepare for your endeavor. Thus, positive performances follow.”
And when a family of softball enthusiasts get together, there’s no limiting what they do.
Mauldin, who coaches at Bend High School in Oregon, has been the “gopher” for a small band of Lava Bear softball family members as they have teamed to build an on-field locker room for the school’s varsity and junior varsity teams.
Though Bend High School is the largest by-enrollment school in central Oregon, it has only one useable softball field on campus. The varsity plays at that field, however, the junior varsity must participate at one of two city-owned, off-campus softball parks.
Both of the JV parks are within walking distance of the school, however, there are no storage facilities for players’ or team equipment.
Mauldin noted that he tired of seeing the JV girls walk past the varsity field heading 2-3 blocks to the JV field with their school book backpacks in their front and their softball backpacks on their backs.
“The idea of an on-field locker room started as a simple enough conversation with a parent,” said Mauldin. “But mentioning a softball idea to parent and electrician Dan Parker is like an invitation waiting to happen. Next thing you know, we have school approval, City of Bend permits and a work crew with a mission.”
Parker, whose oldest daughter Ashley graduated in 2019 and youngest daughter Alli is a freshman Lava Bear, recruited long-time friend Keith Krewson to lead the volunteers. Mauldin calls them “great examples of doers … people who do.”
At the end of our fall workouts, the Bend coaches talked to the players about ‘doers’ and ‘ minimalist.’ Assistant coach Dave Smith said, “this project is the greatest example of people who do.
Assistant coach Dave Smith said “Pride plus passion is what was put into the new softball locker room and that showed with the involvement of coaches, players and parent volunteers.”
The all-volunteer Lava Bear crew didn’t just add an 11-foot by 40-foot locker room, but also added a 20-foot by 18-foot equipment storage room attached to the locker room. The storage room is connected on the back side of the BHS dugout along the third base line, while the locker room connects to both.
Mauldin pointed out that the equipment room has ample room for two hitting stations and is designed should the Lava Bear family faithful opt to enclose the schools 16-foot by 52-foot outdoor batting cage.
But the Lava Bears’ locker room isn’t your traditional locker room. There are no showers or restroom facilities. No concrete floors with drains or benches. Instead, it has custom chairs (featuring the BHS Bear Claw), teak wood lockers and carpeted floors. It has a team room feel.
“We picked up the wooden lockers from a country club that was re-doing its men’s club, and decided to place them in different areas of the locker room instead of in a long row with bench seating,” said Mauldin. “It gives the room more of a team room feel that includes a large leather chair and ottoman.
The locker room also has a 50-inch television and a 36-inch video review television.
The locker room - nicknamed the “Bear’s Den” also featured artist renderings, a Wall of Fame to honor former standout Lava Bear players and cell-phone charging units for each player.
In addition, the Lava Bears will entertain a few colleges while they travel during spring and fall seasons. It can seat up to 32 with a maximum capacity of 40.
“We see it as a lot of win-wins,” said Mauldin. “Of course, the big winners are the girls. They not only have a place to store their gear, but a place that adds to team pride in so many other areas.”
The Lava Bear family has received tremendous community support.
“If it wasn’t a full donation, it was a partial donation,” said Mauldin. “All totaled with carpet tiles, tables, chairs, roll-up door, we did it for under $10,000. Otherwise, I’m guessing it would have been $20,000 plus. What a great outpouring of community support for Lava Bear softball.
With the exception of the custom chairs and the school district electrical team, the project was fueled by fundraising and volunteering.
Kale Zahniser, parent of all-league pitcher Lena Zahnizer and a volunteer said “The project was a huge undertaking, but the volunteers crushed it. The number of hours put into the overall project is amazing. The product is super.”
Mauldin was quick to note that it wasn’t without obstacles. One such was the City of Bend requiring the crew to replace 37,000-pounds of non-rebar concrete with rebar-lined concrete.
“Yep, definitely, the hardest part. And the most time-consuming part,” said Mauldin. “But hardest part for me was worrying about the time the volunteers were losing away from their families and thier paying jobs. It was a tremendous personal sacrifice on their part.”
Truth be known, Mauldin said, “hardest part for me was hauling concrete. That’s for a younger man to do. I’m just thankful the crew wouldn’t let me use the jack hammer.”
There were a few short-sleeve days to go with rain, snow, sub-0 weather and loss of daylight due to Daylight Savings.
But the crew had a lot of “light” moments along the four-month journey. Assistant coach Dave Smith missed a few weeks due to a heart ailment, yet the crew joked “can’t believe Dave had a heart attack just to get out of work.”
As Parker says, “it’s for the girls.”
And Parker summed it up best “dreams can be built when your tools are pride and passion.”