YORK, PA - A survivor. A player. A coach. A mentor.
These four things are what York College first-year softball head coach Nicki Starry has grown from to become what she is today.
As a player, Starry made tremendous strides in the game of softball. From turning around a struggling high school program to playing at the top of the Division I game, she has been there.
“Softball is one of those things where you step across the white lines and the game makes sense, there are the rules of the game, and the way it’s played that just makes sense,” Starry said. “When you go out there with eight other players with just heart, drive and the sweat that you leave out there, the rest of the world just stops. Nobody can take that away from you.”
In high school, Starry was a part of a group of girls from Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, that was nominated and appeared on the “Team Cheerios” box when they teamed with the American Cancer Society.
Starry was stricken with cancer at the age of 9, but she continued to play softball and live life – two keys which enabled her to win the battle.
After high school, Starry trekked to Madison, Wis., where she caught for the Division I Badgers. As catcher for the University of Wisconsin, Starry gained an in-depth understanding of all aspects of collegiate softball, which has enabled her to become a successful coach.
“I wanted to go in and prove myself on the field, and I earned my spot when I got there, over a senior catcher,” Starry said. “It was great not to earn the spot through a name but what I could prove on the field.”
During her playing career at Wisconsin, Starry earned NFCA All-Mideast Region accolades in 2001 as two of her Badger teams earned trips to the Division I NCAA Tournament. During that 2001 campaign, the Badgers won their first NCAA game in program history when they topped Fresno in a regional contest at UCLA.
Following her playing days, Starry entered the coaching ranks. She has led numerous youth programs to success in the San Diego area. Those programs included the 14U Rowdies travel team, the Rancho Bernardo High School junior varsity squad and the Starry-owned and coached “The Academy Travel Softball Club.”
Having now turned her attention to the York College softball team, Starry brings the same fun-loving attitude and intense passion with which she played.
“Every game-day morning we get a text message from her getting us pumped up for the game, and that is just where it starts,” Spartan senior captain Heather Bormann said. “The energy and confidence she instills in us just allows us to be relaxed and play the game the way we know how to.”
Starry’s coaching philosophy was developed as a player through her parents, who have coached Starry since she was 6.
“[They] showed me it’s not all about the winning and fame, because in the end it was just a game you got to play,” Starry said. “If you work hard, put everything into it, and you bond the girls, even if they aren’t the best team, they will fight together until the end.”
To Starry, softball is more than a game. It is one of those moments in life that gives you the opportunity to spread your passion to others.
“I would like to be remembered as the coach that motivated [players] to go out and give back, become strong women coaches themselves,” Starry said. “That would be the one thing that makes me more proud than anything else.”
Feature written by Garrett Wampler - York College sports information student-intern