A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

EKU softball coach and mom chases Olympic dreams with her family, trying to make the team

By Morgan Romans
EKU Sports Communications

Mom – A word many professional athletes don’t hear on the sidelines. But, it’s a word that Eastern Kentucky University softball assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson treasures and hears quite often whether she is coaching defense for the Colonels or playing third base for the Chicago Bandits of National Professional Fastpitch.
 
From the end of August through May you can find May-Johnson assisting head coach Jane Worthington with the EKU softball team, but in the summer months she doubles up, getting a little playing time in for herself.
 
May-Johnson wasn’t a stranger to the professional landscape in 2017 when she re-joined the Bandits. The Iowa graduate had spent 2006-11 seasons with the team and then served a stint in 2011-12 with USA Softball.

 

This time though, playing was going to look and be a little different – May-Johnson was married with two kids, Corrie who was three and Emma who was just shy of a year old, and chasing a dream of participating in the 2020 Olympics.
 
“My decision to come out of retirement was based on my love to play and my husband, Nate, supported me,” May-Johnson explained. “Softball gets back in the Olympics in 2020. I have no idea if I can make the team but I would love to try. That was the initial conversation that brought it back.”
 
Knowing her husband would be at home because of his full-time job and that she would be the only player on the team with children, May-Johnson had to get creative.
 
“Our general manager is local and has lived here for many years,” May-Johnson stated. “She knows a lot of people and has put me in touch with a handful of high school and college girls that are looking to make a couple extra bucks. I just send out the dates I need and cross my fingers that one of them wants to look after them. When I go on long road trips, we have a couple that are 10 days, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law keep them. Also, Nate comes up on some weekends.”
 
For May-Johnson, the fact that she can include her family in what she’s doing is one of the best parts of her job.
 
“I don’t work entirely in an office so the kids get to come and run around the field,” she said. “Mom’s work is fun, we get to run around and throw a ball. Any job where you can include your kids to some degree is fun. In Chicago, I have had the opportunity to take both kids on the field for pregame. At this point, the opportunity to do it with my family is the best part. It’s really fun just to be on the field. Not many people get to do all this. My kids get to see me play and that’s pretty cool and rare, at least for women.”
 
May-Johnson continues to get better and pursue her dream of participating in the 2020 Olympics, but now she’s doing it with a little different motivation – obtaining it with her little girls in the crowd. This season the veteran is hitting .395, the best average yet during her tenure with the Bandits.
 
“Softball has taught me so much,” May-Johnson stated. “It’s taught me how to fail, how to win, how to lose, how to compete, how to fight when things feel hopeless, determination, resiliency, it’s taught me to ignore the naysayers. Last, and most importantly, it’s taught me to trust in God and know that He is the rock on which I stand. Of all the things that this game has taught me, that’s the lesson I want my girls to learn.”
 

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