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Hollis column: Royals' former softball coach made the right choice, but she'll be missed

Published: Saturday, March 15 2014 2:45 p.m. MDT

"My husband, Ron, has always been the first person in my corner, saying 'You can do this and we'll make it work.'

"But I realized it was time to focus on what we have for now," she said. "I don't consider myself fully retired forever, though. I still daydream about coaching again someday down the road."

She and her husband both teach math at Roy High. Mandy teaches part-time in the special education department, while Ron teaches full-time.

They've been married for 10 years and have two girls and a boy — Addison, age 6; Elliette, 3, and 1-year-old Gehrig.

Mandy, who's 33 years old now, led the Royals to the 1998 title and showed her grit by pitching them to victories in all three games on the final day of the state tournament. She went on to play college softball at Ricks College, Southern Utah and BYU.

Since then, her coaching career is filled with many wonderful memories.

"It's funny how fast it goes," she said. "The first time we won state, I was looking at these girls and I thought, 'We did that, we won and it's over.' It was so easy with them. My best memories are of watching kids do things they didn't know they could do. They set goals for themselves and accomplish them and say, 'Gosh, I really can do stuff.'

"I had the greatest seat in the world. I wish I could say it was all me, but all I did was get to sit back and watch these girls accomplish great things. Of course, anyone who had ’Cauley pitching for them was going to be in a pretty good position to win. But the best thing a coach can do is say 'Why not us?' We had girls that always believed in themselves.

"I'll miss the friendships that you make, them coming and seeing me after they're done playing, talking to me about what's going on in their normal lives outside of softball," Koford said. "It was like having 20 new best friends every year. It's a rare and special thing, and they were all such good kids. Now when I get to go to a wedding shower or baby shower for one of them, it makes me feel like an 18-year-old again."

She also appreciated the support of her players' parents, who rarely, if ever, gave her any grief.

"I had heard horror stories about parents, but I never had trouble with them," Koford said. "Instead, it was all about what can they bring and what can they do to help. I never had an issue, never had parents yell at me. They would make dinners at the drop of a hat and bring the team whatever they wanted or needed. Jace Holt gave us batting helmets for several years. We've had amazing parents who have done nothing but support us.

"I don't know if that's the people in Roy or just the respect we've built up over the years. I just told the parents we're gonna play the nine best kids, and I couldn't be happier that they gave us their kids. They gave us their daughters each year and said 'Good luck.'

"I feel so, so blessed and so lucky to have such an awesome support system throughout that whole program," she said. "It was so easy; they made my job easy."

Haylee Hoch, a former Fremont High star who played college softball at Southern Utah University, has taken over the coaching reins of the Royals' program. And, taking a page out of the Flints' book, one of her assistants is her dad Dave, a former pro baseball player and longtime softball coach who was Roy's head coach more than a decade ago.

Going to watch the Royals play won't be easy for Koford.

"I went to their game yesterday," she said on Friday. "I took ’em cookies, but it was hard. I told Haylee, 'The last thing I wanna do is be someone who's breathing over your shoulder, because this is your team now.'

"They're in great, great hands. There might be some growing pains, but I have full confidence that they're gonna always make this Roy High softball and something to be proud of."

Spoken like a true champion — and like someone who's been very special to the program for a long time and definitely knows what she's talking about.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com

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