Mrs. Baseball: Robinson may be 1st woman coach in Auburn Little League historyBy: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
MeShay Robinson says a lot of kids were shocked to hear the news.
“My son goes to school with most of them,” Robinson said. “They were like ‘Oh, wow! We have a woman coach. But I’m very proud to say we are 5-1 (including preseason) and we’re kind of the underdog.”
Had Robinson not accepted the position as coach of the Tigers, a 13- and 14-year-old junior team, it’s possible one less squad of boys would have been playing on the diamond this year.
“They were looking for coaches and nobody stepped up and we got a phone call the night before the draft. They asked my husband and I,” said Robinson, a 1989 Placer High alumna, who now lives in the Lake of the Pines area. “Sixteen kids wouldn’t have been able to play.”
While Robinson has taken on the role as the head coach, her husband, Michael, has embraced the position of the manager.
That may have “shocked” the children as well, as Michael is an amputee.
“It was kind of a prove-them-wrong thing,” MeShay Robinson said. “A big joke around the league is we have a one-legged, woman-coaching team.
“We weren’t upset (by the comments), we thought it was funny. If you’re going to make these comments, we’re going to prove we can still come out and play ball.”
The Tigers, who Robinson said weren’t taken seriously because of their husband-and-wife coaching tandem, went 4-0 in the preseason and were 1-1 heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Red Sox.
While Robinson is a first-time baseball coach, she has coached softball in the past, including an ARD team. Though she’s never coached kids before, she knows the game fairly well.
Growing up in Auburn, Robinson herself played baseball in Little League until the league would no longer let girls play. She then took up softball before playing soccer at Placer.
“I’ve been playing ball my whole life,” she said. “My brother played Little League, I played Auburn Little League. My grandpa was a minor leaguer, my dad played. It’s instilled in my family.”
And now her son, Morgan, an E.V. Cain student, plays too. With his mom coaching the team.
“She’s great. She’s fun to have out there. She’s got a lot of spirit,” said Auburn Little League president Steve Callahan, who coaches in the same division as Robinson.
“It’s definitely rare in Auburn Little League to have moms coaching, which is another cool story. That she’s coaching her son at the junior’s level, it makes for an interesting dynamic. But she knows the game.”
Callahan isn’t sure if Robinson is the first mom head coach in the Little League’s baseball history, but said there have been a few others in the past who have helped coach or manage in lesser roles.
“Her taking this leadership role is fun to watch,” Callahan said, “especially being an opposing coach. Not that it changes the way you coach, but its fun to see a mom out there who’s intense and having fun with her son and the other boys.”
Some of the top players on the Tigers include catcher Dylan Douglas, shortstop Shane Betts, pitcher Kuba Brdecki, first baseman and pitcher Logan Cole and third baseman Morgan Robinson — who all attend E.V. Cain Charter Middle School.
“These five boys are the top of my lineup,” Robinson said. “Almost every time they’re up they’re guaranteed to get hits. They’re my clutch players. I really enjoy coaching them.
“They all kind of came out with intentions of, “Oh, my gosh. We have a woman coach.’ I think I’ve really earned their respect because of the way we play. Before the season started they wanted to quit because they heard I was a woman coach. Then they realized I actually knew how to play the game.”
None of the players wound up quitting. And now Robinson is hoping she can be an inspiration to others.
Said Robinson: “I hope women can feel they’re just as much capable as coaching kids, other than coaching daughters, so they can coach their sons.”