Scott and Allie Bradley, a father-daughter duo at Northeastern University, had resigned themselves to the fact that their softball careers were over.
It was fall 2012.
Allie, BS/MS’17, had spent the previous 13 years honing her game, attending pitching clinics for the sheer love of the sport. Scott, E’88, had been with her through every win and loss, coaching her teams from Little League to high school.
But now she was a first-year student at Northeastern University, with no outlet to satisfy her passion for softball. Now he would have to hang up his cleats as well, with no one left to coach.
Or so they thought: Shortly after enrolling in the speech language pathology program, Allie discovered that Northeastern had a club softball team, which had been founded in 2010 as part of the National Club Softball Association’s New England East conference.
I tell people that coaching the club is very easy because I’m working with a bunch of women who love to play softball.
Father and daughter broke out the bats and gloves, with an eye toward the spring 2013 season. They practiced hitting and pitching at an indoor facility near the family’s home in Maynard, Massachusetts, and Allie made the team.
The club struggled—they didn’t have a coach—but Scott was a fan, cheering on the Huskies at their home games, which were played at Boston Common’s softball field. He got to know Allie’s teammates and started running some summer practices in preparation for the fall 2013 campaign.
“Players said that they were some of the most productive practices that they had had,” Scott recalls. “They liked the structure I brought and asked me to continue as their coach.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
The team has thrived under his leadership, improving every season. This past fall, the club posted a conference-best 11-4 record. Allie was the club’s top pitcher, posting a 6-1 record with a 4.50 ERA.
“He’s a very fair coach who listens to everyone’s concerns,” Allie says of her dad’s coaching style, noting that he will solicit feedback from the club’s e-board on his batting lineups. “He’s very knowledgeable about the game, too, helping to adjust players’ swings and coming up with clever plays.”
The spring 2017 season will begin on Sunday, March 26 at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts. If the club maintains its standing atop the New England East conference, it will advance to the NCSA regional playoffs—which will be held in Pennsylvania from April 21 to 23—for the first time in program history.
“I think this team could go deep in the playoffs,” Scott says. “We have a very good stable of pitchers and our offense is as strong as it’s been since I started coaching.”
No matter what happens, the spring campaign will mark the final season of inter-collegiate softball for Allie and Scott. Allie will graduate in May and Scott, a Northeastern alumnus who works as an electrical engineer for Sharp, will hand off the coaching duties to Frank Bourgeois, the university’s associate director of safety for residential life.
Allie, who served as club president in 2014 and 2015, will miss her teammates, the road trips, the off-field fun. In fall 2015, for example, the team traveled up to Maine to play the Black Bears. The Huskies won, but the victory paled in comparison to the sheer joy they derived from their pre-game trip to an apple orchard, where they picked apples and ate ice cream.
“It was one of the happiest times I’ve had with the softball team,” Allie recalls. “It felt so idyllic, so wholesome.”
Scott accompanied the club to the apple orchard that day. He, too, relishes the bond he’s formed with the players he’s coached, whom he says are “almost like my daughters.”
“I tell people that coaching the club is very easy because I’m working with a bunch of women who love to play softball,” he explains. “Our opponents tell me how much the team has improved but also how much class the players have on and off the field.”
He’s confident that Bourgeois will continue to shape the club into a perennial playoff contender. Bourgeois, for his part, thinks the team is talented enough to compete at a Division II or III level.
“What’s impressed me most is their dedication to the team and their compete level,” says Bourgeois, who’s been coaching softball for 10 years, beginning with his daughter’s Little League team. “I’m excited for the future.”