Although a newcomer to the coaching ranks, Nichole Victoria of Camarillo High looks and acts the part of a seasoned veteran, doing whatever it takes to get the most out of her players.
“If I get mad or if I’m really upset with a certain player, I’ll get in her face and let her know exactly why I’m upset and what she’s done wrong,” Victoria said.
Apparently, Victoria’s hard-nosed approach to softball didn’t go unnoticed, or unrewarded. The 23-year-old rookie coach led her alma mater to the championship game of the Southern Section Division I playoffs and lost just three of 27 games this year.
Not a bad season for someone who never wanted to coach and still isn’t certain she won’t give it up tomorrow. Victoria, who replaced Darwin Tolzin in November, took the job more as a favor than a career choice. She is still playing competitively for a women’s open team in Illinois, plans to marry and continue work on her Master’s degree next year. Who’s got time to coach?
Victoria, who played at UCLA from 1991 to 1994, said she didn’t consciously pattern her coaching philosophy after anyone, but upon further review, thinks she might have picked it up from Bruin co-Coach Sue Enquist, who routinely had a few choice words for the second baseman.
“Every day, at least twice,” Victoria said.
Since it worked on her, Victoria assumed it was the best medicine--in varying doses.
“Some players, you get in their face and they just fall apart, and others . . . finally kick it into gear,” she said. "[But] if you don’t do it with everyone, you’re playing favorites. So you kinda have to tiptoe around some and just do your best to motivate them and make them better.”
But Victoria said she wouldn’t have expected so much of the Scorpions if they were just an average team. But with every player returning from a successful 1995 season, it was her job to make sure they didn’t underachieve.
Apparently, she made believers of them.
“I know that all the hard work that she makes us do is gonna take us somewhere someday,” sophomore pitcher Cindy Ball said.
Maybe even UCLA.