Alannah Long comes from a family of competitive people, athletes, and coaches. You might say she was, literally, born for her new role as Murray High’s head softball coach.
“I have three brothers and I was the only girl, so I had no choice but to be a tomboy,” said Long, now in her second year as a special education teacher at Murray. She was an assistant softball coach under former coach Eric Weaver, who stepped down to spend more time with family, according to athletic director Greg Linder. “We just all played sports and our parents loved sports. It was something we all did as a family.”
When the program needed a new coach, Linder didn’t have to look far to find a quality replacement, he said.
“Alannah is a young, energetic coach who has a tremendous amount of passion for the game of softball,” he said. “Alannah has the ability to relate with our softball players by being a former softball player herself. I have no doubt that she will do great things for our softball program.”
Long, a native of Wrens in Jefferson County, inherits a young team that finished 5-15 overall and 0-7 in region play a year ago. She is excited about the challenge of rebuilding a program and believes the girls are buying what she’s selling.
“Last year, I had great relationships with the pitchers, well, all of the players, but pitching was my thing,” she said. “This year, I have really focused on relationships with these girls, showing them that I am going to push them. There may be days you don’t like me, but I am going to push you, but you’ll know that I am doing this because I care about you and am helping you be a better softball player and a better person. I want to win games, obviously, because I am super competitive, but my biggest goal as a head coach is helping the girls know they have someone that cares about them and wants to push them to be better every day.”
Long grew up playing multiple sports but found her passion in softball. After excelling in softball at Jefferson County High School, Long went on the play at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs where she pitched and played first base. Last season, Long was Murray’s pitching coach so she has experience with the team and in a pressure-filled role of calling pitches. She’s now looking forward to the challenge of handling the entire program.
“I have to think about the game differently than I did as a player,” Long said. “I loved playing, I really did, but I love coaching more because I get to see girls fall in the love with the game the way I did. I get to help them and develop them and that is an awesome feeling.”
Region 6-AAA will look a little different this coming season with the addition of LaFayette and Rockmart and the exit of Calhoun. Rockmart finished 29-5 a year ago and Lafayette was 20-13. Factor in region champion Ringgold and formidable foe Sonoraville and the region should be very top heavy. It could be an uphill climb for Murray.
“Our region changed a little bit,” Long said. “We’re very young. We lost five seniors last year, but we have some sophomores and juniors coming back to us. This year, the main goal, obviously, is to win games, but what I want to see this year is them staying pumped up and supporting each other, and just being competitive. If I can see that this year, it will be something to build on in the years to come.”
The Lady Indians are currently scheduled to open the season at home against Coahulla Creek on Aug. 11.