Good things come to those who wait. For Alisha Butler Fairchild, it took four years.
The Port Allen softball coach reaped the rewards of hard work and patience – a lot of it – when she won the Coach of the Year Award for District 8-2A.
The Lady Pelicans (15-11) finished the season in a tie for first place with Episcopal. The award generally goes to the coach of the district championship team, but a shared championship forced a vote for the honor – and it was a unanimous vote for Fairchild.
The 15 wins tied the record for the number of wins in a single season for PAHS.
The unanimous nod came as a surprise to Fairchild, but it also gave her reassurance.
“It was like getting the weight off my shoulders,” she said. “You always wonder if you’re doing a good job, if people think you’re going a good job and respect you.
“It’s nice to feel others in your district respect you and feel you deserve your award, seeing how hard you work dropping from 3A to 2A,” said Fairchild, who was named the PAHS Coach of the Year for 2016-17, her second year at the helm of the program.
It did not mean the 2019 season was a smooth ride for Fairchild or her team.
Several key players opted to sit out the season and a few others moved out of state, which chipped the roster from 16 at the end of the 2018 season down to 12 by August of that year.
“The majority of them, other than my four-year kids, had limited playing experience,” Fairchild said.
The loss of seven seniors from the 2018 roster set the stage for a rebuilding year for the Lady Pelicans, but the challenges played a role in building respect from other teams, she said.
“I knew it was going to be rough compared to last year as we’d try to build the program and teach girls how to play softball from scratch – ground zero – as freshmen,” she said. “It’s nice to see how people recognize how challenging that was without a feeder program.”
Fairchild was also informed that her program ranked in the Top 3 at the school in terms of fundraising for sports and revenue, behind football and basketball.
The fundraising efforts have helped on improvements to the parking lot, batting cages, the bullpen, and overall upkeep of the softball stadium.
The Lady Pelicans will not play in a league this summer, but they will remain busy, Fairchild said.
“We’re just practicing this summer,” she said. “We will take our reps, try things and build on our success from last season.”