TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — If life were a softball game, Mary Kay Amicone would be a clutch utility player.
The energetic, all-smiles Amicone can play various positions: successful head softball coach, wife, mother, neighbor and friend. She can also play the roles of caring Relief Society president and vigilant visiting teacher at the same time.
How she finds time for it all is a mystery to those who know her, but the always-upbeat Amicone finds a way.
"She helps anyone in her path," said Stacie Graham, an infielder on Amicone's 44-3 Salt Lake Community College softball team.
Most of Amicone's life has occurred on or revolved around a ball diamond. Before her six seasons as head coach at SLCC, Amicone was the first varsity softball coach at BYU, earning Mountain West Conference coaching honors in 2001. She worked at Jordan High School and was the first woman to coach a Utah high school boys baseball team. She also played college softball at Weber State and the University of Utah.
She is married to Marc Amicone, general manager of the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. He also has a long list of teams he played for over the years. The couple's sons Derek and Trevor are also ballplayers. Derek is currently on the baseball roster at Utah Valley University.
So does it come as any surprise when Amicone shares a sports analogy or a motivational saying in a Relief Society lesson?
"She is not your typical Relief Society president," said Kyra Morris, Amicone's first counselor and longtime friend. "When we were called (more than a year ago), one of the sisters said, 'What are we going to do for homemaking night? Learn to throw a softball or operate a snowblower?'"
Amicone was humbled when called to serve as president but has been overwhelmed by the love and support of the sisters in the Willow Canyon Ward.
Morris describes Amicone as very confident, positive, thick-skinned, accepting of others and an amazing fit as president, despite not really matching the homemaker stereotype. She doesn't have much time for shopping, craft projects or anything fluffy.
"We called someone (else) who is good at that stuff," Morris said. "But if she sees something that needs to be done, she does it."
Amicone, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, trumpets the themes of health and exercise to the sisters and often reminds them "we are all in this together" and "keep working to improve your gospel fundamentals."
Amicone's coaching philosophy centers on the family concept. Whether in the Relief Society room or the dugout, family is something everyone can relate to.
"Everything is family-oriented," she said. "In a team sport or the Relief Society, we depend on one another, we support and serve one another. In a leadership calling, you rely on your counselors the same way you do your players. Our players are what make us successful. When you do the fundamentals, everything works out."
The concepts of personal progression and dealing with adversity are also common themes that translate from softball to the gospel.
"How can I grow? How can I be the best softball player? How can I contribute to the team? When we forget those critical things, we get lost or distracted," Amicone said.
The presidency tries to meet weekly, but due to Amicone's travel schedule, communicates primarily via text message. That is also how the coach sends her thank-yous, Morris said.
"She is always texting that she appreciates what you do," Morris said.
Amicone's players appreciate their coach.
As the end of the season approaches, the Bruins are in a good position to win their fourth SWAC title in five years. Erika James, the center fielder, said success has come because that is what coach Amicone expects. They trust their fearless leader. SLCC plays in the SWAC tournament May 13.
"She has a mom effect," James said. "She doesn't raise her voice, she just expects a lot of us and knows we can do it. And she has fun with it."
When the team traveled to northern Idaho in March for four games, Amicone promised she would jump in a lake with her clothes on if the team swept the series. The team went 4-0 but had to settle for their coaches jumping into the hotel pool. Within minutes, the whole team had been pulled in. It was a memorable moment, the players agreed. "Usually coaches just help you on the field," sophomore pitcher Sarah Clark said. "Our coaches like to have fun off the field, too."
Amicone is careful not to mix her religious convictions with her work at a state-funded school, but when the team is on a road trip she likes to share an inspirational message or read the team a good book.
"She is always teaching us, not just to hit or throw but to be better people," Clark said.
One life lesson Amicone has shared with her team recently is to live in the present by cherishing those around you, being together and making memories. The day will come when everyone goes in different directions.
For the players, it makes sense as the season nears its end. But for Amicone, the message goes deeper than that.
In the span of about eight years, her parents and two brothers died of health-related problems. The inner strength gained from those experiences has helped her relate to others in their trials.
"It was a unique time period," she said. "It was getting pretty depressing. But through that series of trials, I gained a greater perspective of the plan of salvation and eternal families. I don't know where I would be without it.
"Your ward family, and what they mean to you in those times, has led me to fulfill my calling."
Just another example of a utility player making a routine play.
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