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Coach puts speculation to rest: She’ll be back next year

“I’m coming back.” With those three words spoken before announcing season-ending awards last week, Halifax County High School Head Varsity Softball Coach Melanie Saunders put to rest any speculation of her leaving the softball coaching ranks.

Halifax County High School Head Varsity Softball Coach since 1998, Saunders said she still had goals left to fill, especially considering the abrupt ending to this past season where she expected her team to compete for a state title.

“I talked to some of my friends and really thought we’d make it to state,” recalled Saunders.

“We make it to state, and this was going to be it for me.”

Saunders referred to something her mother taught her, always try to end things on a positive note, and she has instilled that in every team she’s had.

“I can’t go back on my word,” noted Saunders.  “That’s something I’ve taught to all my teams, don’t end on a negative.

“This was such a negative way to end,” added Saunders referring to the Northwest Regional loss to Osbourn Park.

“I’ve told friends, coaches and people in the community this was it, I’d been saying it all year long,” recalled Saunders.

“Honestly, a month ago this was it but I can say with full intentions I can’t end my softball career on such a negative aspect.

“It’s going to be a rebuilding year, and it’s been a hard year for me personally and emotionally,” added Saunders.

“This team has made it fun to come out to practice and games.  It’s given me that outlet, and the team did it for me, giving me the feeling that I needed,

“But to end with that last game would go against everything we teach as coaches, and all the kids who played under me would second guess all I teach them.

“I can’t do that to myself or to them.”

Her first responsibility, as always is to her team.

“I’m not concerned about people worrying about whether I’m coming back or not, I’m concerned with the kids and what they do on and off the field, that’s what it’s about,” explained Saunders.

“Sometimes people lose focus about what our kids do on and off that ball field, in life, the classroom and at home.

“That’s what has made us successful, we don’t focus 100 percent on things on the ball field but beyond.”

Saunders remembered something a friend told her in making her decision to return.

In trying to comprehend the loss to Osbourn Park, that person told her someone else could be sending a message that goals and challenges still remain.

“Perhaps God was trying to tell me that it wasn’t time to go just yet,” said Saunders.