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The Journal Gazette

  • Coffman

Monday, July 09, 2018 1:00 am

Softball coach giving TV a try

Working handful of TinCaps broadcasts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Most of Tracy Coffman's calendar revolves around coaching sports. Coffman is the head coach of the softball team at the University of Northwestern Ohio in the spring, and her husband, Jon Coffman, leads the Purdue Fort Wayne men's basketball team in the winter.

In the summer, however, Coffman's coaching responsibilities are mostly limited to recruiting and she has time for other pursuits. In addition to spending time with her two kids, Tommy and Lucy, Coffman has, beginning in 2017 and continuing this season, occasionally been serving as the color commentator on TinCaps television broadcasts.

“I always say to my team, get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Coffman said. “I've been coaching for 15 years and I'm fairly comfortable in that regard, so it's just really nice do something that's just out of my training and out of my element. ...It is quite intimidating to be on live TV.”

Coffman has, by her count, worked about 10 games over the last two seasons, including Sunday's matchup against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. She works with play-by-play man John Nolan, who also does play-by-play for Mastodons men's basketball games. Nolan originally broached the idea to Coffman of using her softball expertise to analyze TinCaps games.

“She's just someone who I think has a great personality and is a tremendous coach herself,” said Nolan of his thinking when he asked her to be on the broadcast. “I really enjoy the chance to have Tracy call games with us. ... I think it's a cool change of speed for us.”

Coffman said she feels she has gotten better in the booth as she's gotten more experience. She's worked “seven or eight” games during the 2018 season and admits one area she is still working on is making sure she gets pronunciations of difficult names correct. She makes sure to have phonetic pronunciations in her notes.

The former pitcher and infielder at the University of Toledo also believes the experience in broadcasting can help her as a coach.

“It's been awhile since I felt that newness of something, so it helps me better communicate with my players, knowing that they feel like that every day when they're first starting out playing for me,” said Coffman, who recently completed her fifth season as coach at the softball program she started from scratch.

As a coach, Coffman brings a unique perspective to the TinCaps' booth when it comes to discussing strategy. Her background as a pitcher and pitching coach give her a window into the thought process of Fort Wayne hurlers. 

She's also a relatable voice in the booth for many of those watching at home, according to Nolan.

“A key of part of being a successful broadcaster would be having a relatable personality,” said Nolan, who said he also appreciates that she is prepared for every game and asks for feedback on her performance. “The fact that she's pop culture-savvy, she referenced 'Varsity Blues' during a game recently.

“Also, the fact that she's a mom. So like if on our broadcast we're showing kids in the stands doing the Floss dance, she has young kids who are doing that too, so I think she's relatable to a lot of people.”

Of course, Coffman still has duties as a coach during the summer. This year, she has already gotten commitments from three recruits for the 2019 class as she tries to build off her most successful season at Northwestern Ohio. The Racers went 31-14 and won the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference conference tournament, advancing to the NAIA Tournament.

“That's really helped our recruiting,” she said of the championship. “We're getting better players, really great academic fits and just some fantastic young ladies are starting to join our program.”