It’s amazing Ginger Shaw found any time at all to coach the Gardiner Area High School softball team this spring.
Not only does she work in special education at Gardiner Regional MIddle School and keep the books for two construction companies, she has two children — one in middle school, one in high school — involved in athletics.
“She’s probably the busiest woman I’ve met in my entire life,” senior center fielder Kylee Granholm said.
Shaw leans on her husband for help with her kids and says “everything’s written down in triplicate.” Now in her second year as varsity softball coach, Shaw found time to lead the Tigers to one of their most successful seasons ever. They finished the regular season at 15-1 and were the top-seeded team in Eastern Maine Class B. Their season ended with a loss in the regional championship game.
For her efforts, Shaw has been selected Kennebec Journal Softball Coach of the Year. Also considered were Richmond coach Rick Coughlin, Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins and Winthrop coach Bob Ouellette.
Shaw’s softball roots in Gardiner run deep. She played for a pair of teams that won division titles in the mid-80s and has been involved in youth and middle school programs for years. She also helped Coughlin, who is her uncle, at Richmond for a few years. When she talked about school pride, her players knew she believed in it herself.
“You went to school there, you want it to do well and the kids to do well,” Shaw said.
Gardiner won its first 10 games of the season before losing to Maranacook. The loss came a couple of days before its biggest regular season game, and the Tigers bounced back nicely to knock off unbeaten Oceanside on the road.
“She got our heads back in it,” Granholm said of the loss. “She never yells at us. She sat us down and we had a talk. She told is it wasn’t the end of the world.”
The Tigers went 10-6 in Shaw’s first year, setting the groundwork for this past season. Shaw attributes the team’s success to team chemistry and said her goal was to make sure the players enjoyed themselves.
“My whole point was to make the game fun,” she said. “We had talent, they just needed to learn to play together. And they had fun. Winning kind of does that.”
Shaw said the addition of assistant coach Donnie Brochu was important to the team’s success as well. He coaches ASA teams during the summer and works with the team’s hitters.
“They both know the game,” Granholm said.
Granholm started playing softball again last year after being away from the sport for a few seasons. A conference all-star, she credits Shaw for sticking with her even when she was struggling.
“She really gave me a chance to step up to the plate,” Granholm said. “She never got down on me, she never moved me out of my hitting position.
“Everybody knows who Ginger is. Everybody wants to come and play for her.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638