For members of the Yale softball team, there is nothing wrong with asking the head coach for advice during a critical moment of a game. They just have to figure out which one to ask.
The Bulldogs opened their Ivy League season this weekend against Dartmouth and Harvard equipped with not one, but two experienced and accomplished coaches. Barbara Reinalda, an assistant for Yale the past seven years, was named co-head coach at the beginning of the season and joins incumbent Andy Van Etten. Van Etten is in his 10th year as head coach.
While co-coaches may be a recipe for conflict, Reinalda said that it has been anything but rocky.
“The transition [from assistant to co-head] has been rather smooth,” she said. “In past years Andy and I worked together on just about everything anyway.”
Their time at Yale is not the first time the two have teamed up. Before becoming the winningest coach in Yale softball history, Van Etten was assistant and head coach for the Raybestos Brakettes of the American Softball Association (ASA). With the help of his star pitcher — none other than Reinalda — Van Etten led the Brakettes to eight ASA Championships.
Under the guidance of Van Etten, Reinalda cemented her place in softball history as a dominating player throughout the 1990s. Reinalda is the winningest pitcher in Brakettes history with an astounding 441-31 record, 19 perfect games and 31 no-hitters. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame.
“[The team] was a family, it still is one to this day. Once a Brakette, always a Brakette,” Van Etten said. “We’ve spent a lot of time with each other, and it makes things easier now. [Reinalda] has the capabilities and is deserving of this shot [to be head coach].”
Reinalda admitted that the two cannot help but reminisce about their days as Brakettes.
“Yes, we talk about the Brakette days,” Reinalda said. “But now is a whole new generation and you have to adapt as years go on.”
Yale captain Chelsea Kanyer ’06 said the two coaches have similar approaches to the game.
“Nothing has changed because it’s the same two coaches, the roles have changed a bit, but that’s it,” Kanyer said. “They are both old-school, they do things traditionally.”
Outfielder Rachel Kelley ’05 said that having Reinalda as co-head coach now has added another source of advice.
“We have been able to hear more of what Barb has to say,” Kelley said. “Getting other points of view has been really helpful. Playing a game where just one mental mistake can mean a loss, getting other opinions is very important.”
But no matter how many head coaches Yale has, the goal remains the same. The team looks to build on last year’s 30-win season and fourth-place finish in the Ivy League. Van Etten said the key to finding success is consistency.
“[The goal] is to win the Ivies,” Van Etten said. “Just tell me which team will show up. If we can play like I know we can, then it can be done.”
Reinalda said she also has personal goals for the team that extend pass DeWitt Field.
“I think every one’s goal is to win the Ivies,” Reinalda said. “But I hope I can help the kids learn and enjoy the game of softball and also become better people for the game of life.”