MADISON — When Madison athletic director Chris LeBlanc wanted to add “Madison softball coach” to his list of duties, he made sure that he ran it by his daughter, Aly.

“I just wanted to make sure that she was OK with me being the coach,” Chris said. “It’s a lot different (as) the assistant coach. I could kind of come and go and do whatever I wanted to do. But now I’m going to be the guy that everybody’s talking about, and you’re only playing because your dad is coaching, and this, that, and the other thing.”

Aly has played well enough that nepotism was never an issue. She’s hitting .420 this season, is second on the team in RBIs (28) and third in runs scored (26). As a catcher, she has a .990 fielding percentage. The Bulldogs are 18-1 in her father’s first season as head coach and play Calais for the Class C title at 12:30 p.m., Saturday at St. Joseph’s College.

“It’s definitely not always an easy thing, but we have the same passion and we have the same goals,” Aly said. “So it brings a lot of fun. Once the game’s over, softball’s continues (as the) talk throughout the night. We’re never not talking about softball.”

“She knows the passion I have for the game,” Chris said. “We share the passion. We’ve gone to the College World Series, and we both sit down and watch those games on ESPN. It’s kind of like our thing.”

Chris was the football coach at Madison in the early 2000s, and Aly says people who watch him coach softball probably wouldn’t be surprised by that.

“He’s definitely intense,” Aly said. “Being his daughter, sometimes he puts a lot more on my plate than anybody else. But it’s well worth it, and it only helps me improve as a player.”

Aly plays in the summer for the Maine Thunder, a travel team with games on weekends. Although Chris enjoyed just being a fan last summer, Aly liked the idea of him being her high school coach.

“He asked my opinion, making sure it was OK with me,” Aly said. “I was definitely all for it because I love having him as a coach.”

Chris replaced Al Veneziano, who won five state titles in 19 seasons at Madison. Last spring, with Chris as an assistant coach, Aly was the regular starting catcher as the Bulldogs won the regional title.

“I think the way that it took place, with Al getting done this year, and Aly had already proven herself under the former coach, I think that made it a lot easier coming in transition-wise for me,” Chris said. “She had already solidified herself as a catcher last year as a freshman.”

Aly will play for the Maine Thunder again this summer, and Chris will be an assistant coach. The Thunder are scheduled to play in seven different tournaments.

“She’s self-motivated,” Chris said proudly. “(Wednesday), we had the day off, and she went out and ran five miles. She wants to play at the next level.”

Aly’s older sister, Sierra, was Madison’s regular second baseman last year. It was the only time she and Aly got to play on the same team.

“That was interesting,” Aly said. “We don’t ever usually get along, but we figured out a nice (way) we could get along and tolerate each other during softball, and created a nice bond through softball.”

Chris was also grateful for that experience. When he speaks about it, he could easily be talking about the experience he and Aly are sharing.

“It was very heart-warming for them to do that,” Chris said. “My sisters both played for Colin Campbell and won the state championship together, and my sisters still talk about that today, going on 40 and 38 years old. I just said, ‘You don’t realize it right now, but this is something that you’ll have forever.'”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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