COOS BAY — A year and a half ago, during Brooke Toy’s first day as a health and physical education teacher at Marshfield, the now first-year head softball coach of the Pirates got a surprise welcome thrown at her.
Fresh out of Western Oregon graduate school and barely a week after getting hired, she was working on her first lesson plan when then softball coach Floyd Montiel walked over and hucked a softball shirt at her.
“Here you go, Coach,” Montiel said.
That type of hospitality was perfect for Toy.
“I’m like, I’m already part of this school,” Toy said. “It was nice I was already welcomed to the Marshfield family.”
A year later, Montiel has stepped down as coach and Toy has taken over the reins as Marshfield’s softball team.
Toy admits that this was the plan. Become a teacher, then a coach. She just didn’t think it would happen so fast.
“When he told me he was stepping down I said, ‘Give me one more year?’” Toy recounted. “Everything is working out. (Montiel has) been a big help to me, he’s right at the school and has been a great resource.”
Besides being a P.E. teacher and coach now, Toy has been a sports lifer.
Toy was a standout basketball, softball and volleyball player at North Douglas High School before going on to play at Pacific University. She was originally recruited for volleyball, but ended up walking on to the softball team and playing four years of that too. (She was asked to play basketball too, but couldn’t make the schedule work.)
After finishing grad school, she applied for the only two open health teaching jobs she could find — at Marshfield and Scappoose.
She got the Marshfield gig and now, at 25, Toy is only seven years older then her seniors. Her players don’t seem to care.
“Age doesn’t matter; she’s my coach and I respect her,” shortstop Katelyn Rossback said. “Being as young as she is and having played at the college level not that long ago, the game of softball is fresh in her mind. She knows and understands a lot about the game.
“I will miss Montiel, but there is no better coach than Toy to fill the spot.”
Besides helping out the girls every day as an assistant last year, Toy spent the summer at the helm of the Pirates 16-under team. She took the underclassmen on trips to tournaments around the state that gave her the experience of not just being around the kids, but being in complete control of the program.
Early in the season, Toy is trying to combat being perceived as a friend instead of a coach.
“There’s trusting me and that’s something I can see,” Toy said. “A lot of people see a young coach and they think that might be bad because sometimes players and coaches that are young might be in the ‘friend zone’ but they are definitely responding well to me and taking me more of an authoritative figure instead of a friend.”
Toy has developed good relationships with all her players, especially senior catcher Abby Osborne. Toy was also a catcher when she played and the advantage of having a fellow catcher as a coach is not lost on Osborne.
“Our style catching is pretty similar, so she can relate to me very well when I’m having an issue with my catching,” Osborne said.
“It’s always nice to have different coaches opinions or styles of doing things. She helped with my blocking and throw downs, and just becoming a team leader she supports me which is a big thing.”
Toy knows she’ll be nervous until the first games get underway, but she already has her hands full between the lines.
She has to replace graduated seniors Chelsea Pettitt, a third basemen now at the College of the Redwoods; second basemen Alicia Hatzel; and pitcher Breanna Johnson, who is now playing at Northwest Çhrisitan University. Ironically enough, Toy is planning on replacing Johnson with her sister, freshman lefty Mackenzie.
Now that it’s softball season, those decisions should be a lot easier for Toy.
“Once we got outside — no pun intended — but I could breathe. It’s definitely softballl season. It makes me wish I could still play,” Toy said.
“I could see myself spending my career here.“