Open Letter to Atlee Softball Players

By Sue Enquist

You and I have a lot in common:
You don’t know me, but I am a huge softball fan. You probably think there is no way I could understand your pain, but I do, because I too have been a national embarrassment to my family, team, school, community, association and sport.
You-Inappropriate behavior (the FU sign) in the dugout, during post game.
Me-inappropriate behavior (tossed a trophy) in the dugout, during post game.

You and I have a lot in common:
I know how angry, disappointed and embarrassed you are. I know how gut wrenching these consequences are. I know you naturally want to tell the world you are good people who love the game. I understand you will want to explain what happened and what led up to it. Yikes, I know that makes your stomach turn over thinking that’s what is happening to you, right now, in this moment.
Having said that, I want you to know something, if you show remorse (even though you feel you were treated poorly), accountability (stay focused on your mistake and not that others get away with worse) and improved future behavior (you know this isn’t who you are, you know you will never let this happen again) it ends up being a GREAT learning experience and part of your story of leadership growth. I know you don’t want to hear that now, but it may get you through your long days with your friends who want the scoop: “What happened?”

Below I hope these 5 suggestions can help you during this difficult time, because you and I have a lot in common:

1. Great people/players don’t justify or deflect their mistakes. They own it and move on. I have total confidence you can do this! I don’t know you, but I believe in you.
2. Great people/players use their failure experience as part of their story to teach others, especially younger ones. Even though you are young, you are a role model for many. Use your story to teach others what you have learned. Be a big sister who knows the right way. I have total confidence you can do this! I don’t know you but I believe in you.
3. Possess the confidence in these embarrassing times, to share you know you have a pattern of good behavior, you are a good girl, who had a lapse in judgement. Trust me, this doesn’t define you or taint you for life unless you become the “Not my fault girl.” (by the way, college coaches can’t stand that “Not my fault girl”).
4. High schools, colleges and the global work force aren’t asking for PERFECT people, they are asking for hard workers, with a positive attitude and GREAT FAILURE RECOVERY SYSTEM (AKA: own your mistake and move on: don’t stay stuck in your junk).
5. Last and equally important: You will learn the sport of softball is ONE big family. You will learn many of your softball big sisters: College players, National Team Players, Olympians and National Pro Players have a story to tell about failure, accountability, and recovery. We have done some stupid stuff too. We have your back. WE STILL BELIEVE IN YOU if you show remorse, accountability and good failure recovery. It will all work out.

In summary, You and I have a lot in common
You: Signed on to being on a TEAM and agreed to be a part of a big brand called: LITTLE LEAGUE. You learned the consequences of not complying with high standards. I hope you learn that HOW you behave is VALUED MORE to LITTLE LEAGUE than access to competing for a championship
Me: I played & coached on a TEAM and agreed to be a part of a big brand called: UCLA.
I learned the consequences of not complying with high standards. I learned HOW I behave is valued MORE to UCLA than the opportunity to win a game or championship.

You will learn: Who your true friends are during this time. Remember you need your family and a close inner circle that is it. Don’t listen to the noise out there. Own it and move on.
I learned: My family and inner circle will always be there for me. To hold me accountable and get me through tough times. The same will happen for you.

You will learn: Little League, has a proven record of doing the right thing. They uphold high standards by their swift decision. I believe they will continue the investigation so all parties are held accountable, having said that, stay focused on your error in judgement, how you can show remorse, own it and move on because you can control all those things. Control the controllables and you will have greater peace of mind during this crazy time.

I hope you stay in the game a long time. It’s a wonderful community who will hold you accountable and equally important-have your back in good and bad times!
Good Luck,
Always in your back pocket, if you need me.
Coach Enquist

Sue Enquist holds more National Championships (11) than anyone in the history of softball. She is UCLA Softball’s first All-American, National Champion, and Hall of Famer. In 2006, Enquist concluded her storied 27 year career as head coach of the UCLA Bruins with a 887- 175-1 (.835) record, making her the winningest softball coach among all active coaches. She is the only person in NCAA Softball history to win a championship as a head coach and a player. Hailed a “coaching legend” by ESPN, Sue Enquist’s tenure produced 65 All-Americans and 12 Olympians. She has been inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation International Hall of Fame, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the UCLA Hall of Fame. Enquist is also the recipient of multiple National Coach of the Year and Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. She concluded her UCLA MVP playing career with a career batting average of .401. In her tenure as both a player and coach, Enquist has a combined 1,314 wins. UCLA Magazine lists her among the top 20th Century Bruins. A former World Champion and USA National Team coach and player, she is the only person to have played on the first Pan American gold medal team (1979) and to coach on the first Olympic Team National Staff (1996), which took home the first gold medal in the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.