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Wade reflects on her time at Gulf Coast

Tyler Waldrep

The hardest moment of Gulf Coast softball coach Beth Wade’s five-year tenure came at the very end.

“I’m leaving the players,” Wade said. “The returning kids and the incoming kids that we have coming in, you create relationships with those guys and it’s really hard to leave at that point.”

Wade is joining the staff at the College of Charleston as an assistant coach tasked with developing the offense in addition to her work with the infielders. The Commodores posted a 167-95 record under Wade’s watch.

“It just felt like sometimes you gotta take the opportunity when it arises,” Wade said. “I definitely wasn’t looking to leave Gulf Coast per se, but sometimes things come up and kind of seem to fall into place.”

Before arriving on campus, Wade worked as an assistant coach for seven years. She had yet to lead a program, but she said the job itself didn’t feel like a huge change.

Sure, there was more responsibility and the interactions with the players are a little different, but the day-to-day stuff was still more or less the same for her.

“It’s just a different mindset,” Wade said of the transition. “You’re now having to make every decision and, not that you’re making it alone, but you ultimately have to be the one that takes control of the decision and owns the decision whether it’s right or it’s wrong. So it’s just a different feel and I don’t think it’s better or worse.”

In her first season, Wade’s team finished 28-25 overall and 6-10 in the Panhandle Conference. When it was all over, Gulf Coast sat at the very bottom of the league standings.

In each subsequent season, the Commodores improved under Wade’s leadership. In 2019, Gulf Coast (37-14, 14-8 Panhandle Conference) finished second in the conference in the regular season and then won the conference playoff to earn a spot in the state tournament.

“She’s leaving the program in great shape and I’m happy for her that she’s moving on to something that she wants to pursue. She did an outstanding job as a head coach,” Gulf Coast athletic director Mike Kandler said.

Kandler said he would like to have a new coach in place before the middle of July. Wade’s confident the program she’s leaving behind will continue to succeed without her.

“I know that Gulf Coast is going to hire a great coach to come in and continue what we started. ... Gulf Coast has a great tradition and I’m 100 percent sure that it would continue to be a winning program,” she said.

For Wade, it was almost impossible to pick favorite moments from the last five years, but she gave it a shot anyway.

The first few games as a head coach stand out among the rest, as does the first game at the new softball stadium in 2018. Then there’s Amanda Dermody’s walk-off two-run single that lifted Gulf Coast to a 2-1 victory over Chipola on April 16, 2018.

Chipola had ended Gulf Coast’s winning streak at 33 games when the two teams met earlier that March. When the Commodores returned the favor, Chipola was on a 44-game winning streak.

“It was a big moment for the kids and they were definitely trying everything they could to make that happen,” Wade said.

Now Wade will take those memories and others with her to the College of Charleston where she will get the chance to coach former Commodore Chandler Sparkman.

Even though Wade won’t be around anymore, she said she’ll still keep up with her former players whenever possible. Wade said that watching them continue to excel at other universities as always been the fun part of the job for her.

“Ultimately what I feel like our job is as a junior college coach is to try to develop kids,” Wade said. “And let them have the best experience possible and hopefully give them opportunities to move on and further their careers the way they want to.”


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