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Family coaching connection helps local softball team shine

Published: May. 2, 2021 at 7:47 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Midway softball team is having a dominant year under Jordan Williams in her first full season as head coach.

The team seems to have a focus and energy that you don’t usually see with new coaches, and that’s because many of Williams’s players grew up playing for a coach with a similar style - Jordan’s mother, Penny Vannatta.

Penny is a prominent trainer and club softball coach in central Texas, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Penny tells me, “There are so many people, everytime I get up in the stands, that will say, ‘I looked down there and I thought that was you down there’ and I’m like, well, we are a lot alike, so, yeah.”

Penny coached and trained many of the current Midway payers when they were just starting softball nearly a decade ago.

It has been a smooth transition for the girls who learned from Penny, to now play for her daughter.

One of those players, Junior Charlee Yourman, has noticed, “They definitely have the same wordplay and stuff, and it definitely helps. Sometimes I will hear Penny in the stands and I will think it’s Coach Williams.”

The players say the coaches have similar styles - they’re both competitive and demand a lot out of the team, but they also make sure everyone has fun and plays loose.

As much as things have stayed the same in the eyes of the girls, everything has changed from the coaches’ perspectives.

“Seeing these kids as immature 7- and 8-year-olds, and now they have blossomed into young ladies. I mean, they are all getting their nails done and spray tans for prom this week, and I’m like, what in the world? It is totally different from the sweet little braces you saw these kids in eight to ten years ago,” laughs Coach Williams.

The one thing that has been apparent with the girls through all the years: a love of softball and hardwork.

Williams says, “They put in so many hours as little bitties, and they are doing the same thing now, but now they are getting rewarded in a much bigger way.”

You could say the same thing about Coach Williams, who was always a great leader as a player and is now living her dream as a successful head coach.

Her mother couldn’t be prouder, saying, “I don’t have anything like that. She has come into her own.”

Midway will take on Rockwall-Heath in the second round of the playoffs this week.

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