Ex-De Anza women softball players find welcome at Foothill


Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/softball-catcher-ball-field-play-1385212/

Thomas Anthony, Staff Reporter

The De Anza College softball season was cancelled this year after an exodus of players due in large part to issues with communication between former head coach Jason Bugg and players.

The fall of 2019 looked like a reversal of fortunes for the softball team, which lacked the players to field a team earlier in the year. A coach had been hired and enough players were recruited to form a full team for the 2020 season. But then the players started leaving.

“I think we had 15, 16, 17 players in the fall,” said athletic director Kulwant Singh. “But players decided for one reason or another that they were not going to play, leaving us with insufficient numbers to have a team.”

For a number of the students, their reason for leaving was the same.

“Player and coach expectations weren’t necessarily set up, so there was just a lack of understanding about commitment and punctuality and healthy relationships,” Mary Sapigao, 19, psychology major said.

Alexis Marqueda, 18, wildlife biology major and Erika Martin, 20, kinesiology major cited similar problems with communication.

“I think it was just the miscommunication between the coach and the players that kind of led to the team’s downfall,” Marqueda said.

After the cancellation of the season, the De Anza and Foothill College athletic departments coordinated to offer De Anza players the opportunity to play on Foothill’s team, which six players took in January.

Martin said there was no discussion about the issues that the players felt on the team. So far, the players have compared their time on the Foothill team favorably to their time at De Anza. “I feel like there’s just a lot better of a team dynamic regarding the coach and the players,” Marqueda said.

Sapigao and Marqueda both they felt more welcome at Foothill, and they and Martin said they appreciated the extra attention and emphasis on relationships they felt at multiple levels at Foothill.

“I’d say I have a better relationship with our current AD, the Foothill AD,” Sapigao said.

Singh said the athletic department would likely hire a softball coach next year, though he admitted that if there was a lack of interest then De Anza probably should not have a team.

“It’s hard for me to say that because I don’t want to give up any team,” he said. “But we’ve struggled the last two years trying to field a team. And we feel like we’ve put forward the effort because we hired a coach as quickly as we could and then we couldn’t field a team last year.”

But the players playing on Foothill said they prefer playing for Foothill over De Anza next year because of the coaching staff.

“If I were a first-year I’d definitely come here again,” said Sapigao. “And I think that what mostly has to contribute to it is that two of the three of our coaches are women, who’ve played the sport their whole entire lives.”

The benefits of female coaches were a consensus among the players, who praised the efforts and intentions of coach Bugg but noted that the female coaches at Foothill better understood how to communicate and relate to them.

With the support of the coaches and the opportunity to play on the Foothill team, Marqueda said she found it fulfilling to play softball at the college level, but was still disappointed at the situation at De Anza.

“I guess it was just frustrating coming to a school expecting to have a season,” she said. “I could have gone to a university, but I decided to come to De Anza to play the sport that I really love, the sport that I’ve been playing my entire life. It was just really upsetting hearing that I wasn’t going to be able to have that opportunity anymore.”

Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay