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Sunday, July 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Rogers softball team evolves into extended family among players, coach

Rogers softball players Gracie Olsen, in back, Macey Finch (8) and Cassandra Shaw (not pictured) are the daughters of all Rogers alumni who grew up with the school’s head softball coach Cris Coffield. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Rogers softball players Gracie Olsen, in back, Macey Finch (8) and Cassandra Shaw (not pictured) are the daughters of all Rogers alumni who grew up with the school’s head softball coach Cris Coffield. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Nothing can keep Macey Finch off the field.

Not even Shaw Middle School, which, like most middle schools, doesn’t offer a fastpitch softball team for girls in the spring.

Finch couldn’t get herself to take a break from the diamond, so for a few months in the spring during seventh and eighth grade she took her gear to the baseball dugouts and suited up with the boys.

Finch, who is now a junior softball pitcher at Rogers High School, was the only girl on the spring baseball team at Shaw.

Finch said her experience on the baseball team was not as bad as it might sound to some. Sure, she got teased – those boys didn’t ever back down from any girl joke that popped in their heads. Finch said they constantly joked around with her in the dugout.

But they respected her. They saw her as one of the guys, Finch said.

“I think I got along better with the dudes than I do with the girls, honestly,” she said. “All of them, as soon as I met them, I pretty much bonded with them.”

Rogers softball coach Cris Coffield, who began working with Finch on the softball field when she was in middle school, said it was Finch’s skills that helped the boys team treat her as one of their own.

“She really earned their respect as soon as she started hitting for them,” Coffield said.

Finch remembered only one other school in the area, Garry Middle School, that had girls on the team. Gracie Olsen, who now plays next to Finch on the Rogers softball field as a starting shortstop, was one of two girls on her spring baseball team at Garry.

Coffield said he liked the idea of having a couple of players on his Rogers team who also have experience playing for baseball teams.

“Builds some toughness,” he said.

It also built a friendship. In their first year back on an all-girls spring high school team, Finch and Olsen developed a relationship on the field that initially grew from their common experiences on the baseball field.

“It was so cute when they started playing at Rogers, because they were like, ‘Hey, you were the other girl,’ ” Finch’s mother Karikaye said.

In their three years together on the varsity team, they found that their connection was rooted in much more than their baseball stories and love for the game. They discovered that they also had ties between their families, which had developed more than two decades ago.

All four parents and Coffield attended Rogers together in the 1990s. Coffield has known Karikaye since elementary school, but he also has connections with Finch’s father, Brian, from when they attended Rogers together.

Coffield and Finch’s parents also remember Olsen’s parents, Sandi and Jeff, and the parents of Coffield’s top pitcher Cassandra Shaw. Shaw’s parents, Charlotte and Dana, also went to Rogers and have known the other parents and Coffield since he graduated in 1991.

“Years later, it’s crazy that now I’m coaching their daughters. … It’s fun. It’s fun to have a strong parent group,” Coffield said.

Over the years, the families have reconnected through the occasional social gatherings or high school reunions, but friendships never fully evolved. Karikaye said she remembered the Olsens when she saw their daughter running around the baseball field in middle school, but their social circles as adults still remained somewhat distant.

Today, their daughters have given them a reason to come together as friends since they all left high school. Now they have weekly reunions on the softball stands while cheering on their alma mater.

“It’s really awesome that they stayed in the community and that they all stayed friends,” Finch said.

Olsen characterized her relationship with Finch, Shaw and their parents as more than just teammates or friends.

“It’s definitely like a big family,” Olsen said.

The long history between Coffield and the families isn’t quite like anything Coffield has experienced on any other team, Coffield said. Finch, Olsen and Shaw are all juniors, so he has one more year with them at Rogers. After next season, Coffield will have the little sisters of Shaw and Olsen to look forward to coaching down the road.

Until then, Coffield said he expects the relationships that have built between him, the girls and his past classmates in four years won’t falter.

“I know that we’ll always be in touch. We’ve got that close bond,” Coffield said.

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