In softball, there’s an unwritten rule that if you're friends with your opponent off the field, you’re the bitterest of enemies on it.
“They’re not your friends when you’re playing them,” one player said.
“We leave the friendliness outside the field,” another player said.
No one knows this rule better than Deana Coleman. She's coach of the No. 8 ranked and district champion The Colony Cougars. Her coaching friends never roll out the red carpet.
“It’s kinda one of those things, when we play we’re not cheering for you,” said Little Elm Head Coach Christina Gywn-Barton.
It’s not just friends, either. Coach Coleman’s youngest daughter, Jayda, plays for her, while her oldest daughter, Ashlee, is the coach at rival Wakeland, and even she puts on the war paint.
“Once it’s game time, you’re opponents,” she said.
Coach Coleman says that kind of friendly competition is typical. At least it was until she was diagnosed with breast cancer just before the season began. It was then she learned how the teams truly felt about her.
“It brought me to tears,” she said.
The team from RL Turner joined her fight by giving her team hair bows for cancer awareness. Lake Dallas gave roses, Prosper collected money for her medical expenses, and Little Elm did a balloon release.
“That’s absolutely the type of coach you want teaching kids,” Gwyn-Barton said.
“When you know you’re not by yourself, it makes a huge difference,” coach Coleman added.
When Deana got cancer, she didn’t know what that meant for coaching, but she now sees perfectly that she has no opponents -- just family.
That’s why her greatest gift comes this weekend in the regional quarterfinals, where she’ll share the field with both daughters, coaching Jayda and coaching against Ashlee.
“I’m kinda nervous, but mostly excited,” Jayda said.
“We’ll never forget this,” Ashlee added.
“I get to be with both my daughters on the field at the same time and that’s amazing,” coach Coleman said.
No matter the score, she knows she’s already won.