Beloved Carmel coach takes helm of varsity softball team

Mike Odello Softball CoachWith freshly dragged dirt and crisply drawn chalk lines, the softball field at CarmelMiddle School lies in wait for the upcoming 2013 season.

While every batter hopes to go 3-for-3 in a game, that’s not an enviable statistic for Carmel’s head coaching job: there have been three different head coaches of the varsity softball team in the past three seasons.

Three weeks ago—a mere five weeks from the start of the softball season—Mike Odello, last year’s assistant junior varsity softball coach and 1980 Carmel High School graduate, was named for the head coaching position.

“The emphasis is going to be on the girls,” Odello says. “I want them to have a good time and have fun playing, something that I had when I played.”

Athletic director Golden Anderson is happy with the choice, noting, “We are all excited for Coach Odello.”

Returning varsity player Brooke Vierra could not agree more.

“Mike is a really cool guy, and I feel like we have a chance to go far this year,” Vierra says.

Odello replaces one-year coach John Franklin, who, after a winning MTAL season, decided not to return.

Franklin had replaced head coach Peter Dew, who had a tumultuous tenure for Carmel High.

In 2009, Dew had to fight for his job at a CUSD board meeting following a complaint from a Padre player. After many emotional speeches from parents, friends and players, the board unanimously voted to retain him.

However, two years later, issues arose again, and this time head coach Dew was not so fortunate.

This year, once again faced with the task of hiring a new coach, Anderson mainly focused on finding someone with good communication and organizational skills.

“When coaches communicate effectively and are organized, they usually provide a positive experience,” Anderson says. “No different, in my opinion, from what makes a good teacher.”

Odello is no stranger to sports at Carmel, having coached baseball, JV softball, girls’ varsity basketball, freshmen football and JV girls’ basketball. However, this will be his first stint as a varsity head coach.

“I have known Mike Odello since my freshman year. He has a lot of experience and knows what he is doing,” says junior Nicole Caoili, a returning varsity player.

With 15 years of various coaching positions under his belt, Odello is not concerned by the carousel of softball coaches and is looking forward to bringing his coaching style to the Padres.

“It’s invaluable what you can pull out of athletics,” Odello says. “A lot of it has to do with what you yourself put into it. The real positive is putting yourself out there in a position where you’re actually part of a team, even if you’re sitting on the bench. The harder you practice just makes everyone else that much better.”

This year, Odello’s plan aims to refocus the program’s spotlight from the coaches back to the players. For most students, high school athletics will prove to be the end of their competitive participation in organized sports, which is why Odello wants to fill the high school experience with as many positive memories as possible.

“I just want people to smile again,” Odello said. “You’re out here to have fun, and I’m going to try and put you in a position to succeed.”

With a strong nucleus returning, Carmel begins its season with a scrimmage on Feb. 25 against Notre Dame High School.

-BRITTANY FILE