Old World Intensity, New World Players

March 17, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

– For as long as Sharon Perkins has been around her game, it really doesn’t seem like she’s been around all that long at all – even to her.

In just four-plus seasons as a softball head coach, all spent at Georgia Tech, she has won 202 games. Hired by athletics director Dan Radakovich in 2007 after serving as an assistant at Georgia and Southern Mississippi, she has seen time fly by like a blur.

“That really was my first thought,” she said. “It seems like it did get here quickly.”

A .724 winning percentage (202-77) sped up the process.

The Yellow Jackets (19-4) will try adding to their totals, and Perkins’, over the next few days in the Chanticleer Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They’ll play Lipscomb twice, Coastal Carolina, Kansas and Providence in a three-day event.

Aileen Morales will be there, and that will be nothing new. She’s been present for all of Perkins’ wins as either a player or assistant. Her vantage point is worthwhile.

“I think what’s great about Perk is she really pushes her players to be the best that they can,” Morales said. “The first word I use to describe her is intense. She’s an intense coach on the field, and in practice, and you come to expect that.

“You’re going to go 100 percent all the time. She forced me to always bring the best every day at practice.”

Perkins is no less intense now than when she arrived on The Flats, but like all coaches she is evolving. She is better all the time at channeling her energy in the right direction.

Morales said Perkins picks and chooses moments for levity.

At times, it’s all been trying, as is the case in every high-pressure job. In her time in the game, whether considered brief or otherwise depending on the perspective of whomever is taking stock, Perkins has seen changes. She considers them pretty big, too.

“I feel like incoming players have changed a lot. Aileen is a lot like me, and how I was as a player, and the kids we have coming in now are not the same,” Perkins said. “I think that’s everywhere, not just at Tech. I think they’re just raised differently. Kids are raised to where you have to give them the `why.’

“Me, if you told me to do it, I just did it. That’s just how it was. These days, the kids have to know the whys for everything. I want them to be the coaches on the field, but there’s not time to [go over details] in games. Some days . . . you just have to roll with it.”

Spoken like a sage veteran, huh?

So how does one fit old-world ways into a new world?

“She has put a great system into place, and it’s just a matter of getting her players to respond to that,” Morales said.

Coach, same question for you . . . how do you prompt new-age players to buy into an old-world way of doing things?

“I feel like, maybe it’s me being around at Tech long enough, and them having an idea how we do things, and them seeing us on TV and seeing us a lot,” she said. “They know to expect the intensity coming in.”

It appears to be working. The Jackets have won 12 in row, seven of the last eight by shutout.

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