Kolze’s softball coaching tree sprouts more branches in Canada Cup
The 2022 Canada Cup in British Columbia turned into a showcase for University of the Pacific softball coach Brian Kolze and several of his proteges. Serving as head coach at Pacific the past 30 years, Kolze was an assistant coach for Team USA, which won six games and the tournament title.
The championship was notable for Kolze because several of his former and current Pacific assistant coaches also had a role in the games:
• Heather Tarr '03, '05, head coach for Team USA and the University of Washington, previously was an assistant coach at Pacific.
• Cindy Ball-Malone '02, '05, '06, head coach at the University of Central Florida and another former assistant at Pacific under Kolze, also was an assistant coach for Team USA.
• Hailey Decker, a current Pacific assistant coach, led the RP Blu Girls, the Filipino national team.
“I think winning the Canada Cup with an unbelievable group and a great staff was more than I expected,” Kolze said. “I was looking forward to reconnecting with my former assistants for this international event. At this stage of my career, I learn from them.”
Tarr was an assistant under Kolze from 1999 to 2004 and Ball-Malone was a standout player and joined his coaching staff in 2002. Decker has coached at Pacific the past three years.
Kolze reflected on his approach for fostering proteges and helping assistants become coaches of successful programs.
“You let your coaches coach. You are not a micro-manager, you are a manager,” Kolze said. “There is a difference. I give them responsibility and teach them how to make adjustments from there.”
Kolze added his assistant coaches have had different strengths and approaches, but there are commonalities.
“One commonality is that I have had people who are loyal, which is very important,” Kolze said. “Also, we have had assistants who are willing to take chances, but also will accept constructive criticism as you mentor them through the process. They know they will have opportunities to spread their wings and that they will receive support.”
His most recent success story is Decker, whose experience with RP Blu Girls is her first as a head coach.
“Having Hailey chosen as head coach of Team Philippines is an indication of her knowledge, work ethic and dedication to softball,” Kolze stated. “This is a tremendous feather in her cap that will give her experience that she couldn’t get anywhere else. I’m proud that she took this opportunity.”
Decker said she has learned about leadership from Kolze.
“One challenge I’ve faced is creating a new foundation for the Philippines national team,” Decker stated. “Kolze gives me advice and motivates me, but also allows me to have a voice and encourages my growth at Pacific. The opportunity at Pacific has provided me with the confidence to lead a national team.”
Decker is no stranger to the RP Blu Girls, having played for the team from 2017-19.
“I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue my career and represent my grandfather’s country,” she said. “I developed a stronger appreciation for my heritage, the country, and the people involved in the program.”
Decker guided her team to victories over Calahoo Erins, Mexico and Aussie Spirit Development.