Melissa Sadler named the new softball coach at STAC

Melissa Sadler was once an all-star on the diamond, but now she has traded in her uniform for a coach’s jacket. 

Many young athletes who looked up to Sadler as a senior on the team are now looking up to her as a coach. A former athlete on the St. Thomas Aquinas college softball team, Sadler joined the coaching staff for the 2021-22 season. 

Sadler played center field for the Spartans from 2016 to 2021. Her impressive speed and powerful arm was a great asset to the team.

From diving and stealing base hits to robbing home runs left and right, she was the strongest outfielder in the conference. Many teams didn’t stand a chance of getting a ball past her.

Because of her love for softball, Sadler said she wasn’t ready to leave after graduating. Wanting to spread her knowledge of the sport, she took the assistant coaching position when the opportunity was presented. 

Sadler has been working with the team on their speed and agility, and had a lot to say about her transition from playing to coaching.

“It was pretty weird coaching my previous teammates who I was in uniform with only a few months ago, most of whom are also my friends. Leading and being in control as a coach is certainly different [to] being a captain” Sadler says. 

One of those teammates is current senior and captain Sarah Williams. Williams played with Sadler at STAC through most of her years here.

After hearing the news that Sadler will be coaching she said “At first, I was not sure how she would adapt to moving from being a teammate to a coach, especially because she played with most of our team last year. But, I also was excited to see how the dynamic of our team would shift with a young coach working with us.” 

After learning as a player, Sadler came into the season with some goals for the team.

“One of my first goals was to get them into better shape, lots of conditioning and working on the small things that will make the bigger differences. We want to prepare to take back what should have been ours.”

Sadler is referring to the devastating conference title loss to Bridgeport University last spring.

In the last game, STAC was behind four runs in the seventh inning and managed to score three more to make it a one-run game. Unfortunately they were unable to score two more runs to clinch the title. 

That year was still an impressive year for the Spartans and for Melissa. Sadler batted .310 with three home runs and was named first team all conference.

For the first time ever the softball team made it to the championship round of ECC playoffs, and Sadler was a huge factor in this accomplishment. 

Now that Sadler is on the sidelines, her former position is an important one to fill.

As Williams says, “Without Sadler in the outfield, our other outfielders have definitely had to step up and find their roles. We definitely relied a lot on her last year, so this year our outfield has had to find ways to fill in her shoes.”

“Our outfielders are still young and learning, so I know that they will continue to improve and contribute to our team.” And the outfield has done just that- so far in conference play the Spartans are leading in first place.

Head coach of the STAC softball team, Kirsten Sullivan, says she was very excited to have Sadler back to help guide the team this year.

“As a first-year coach at the collegiate level, Sadler is improving as the year progresses. It is difficult to transition from player to coach, especially being an alumni. She is receptive to criticism and my directions,” Sullivan said.

The goal for the STAC softball team this year is simple, to win the ECC championship.

Williams intends to “get a ring.” That answer is the same for both Sadler and head coach Sullivan.

Williams said “Last year, we were so close to winning, and I knew that we were capable of it. This year, I want to prove to ourselves and the other teams in our conference that we have what it takes to be champions.” 

After being so close to victory and to making history last year, it is the only outcome the team and the coaches are looking forward to. With Melissa Sadler coaching, it should boost the team far beyond their performance last year.

Although she is not on the field, she will do anything she can to help earn the ring she desired all of her time playing at STAC.