A seemingly innocent request from Susan Mayberry’s best friend when she was 7 years old led to a lifetime passion and career. That request, to play on a softball team that her best friend’s mom coached, sparked her love for the sport. While she didn’t really know what softball was at the time, Mayberry brought the permission slip home and begged her mom to sign the paper to allow her to play.
“Back then there wasn’t T-ball and the players pitched to the batters,” Mayberry said. “The first coaches that I had were the ones who brought out the intense competitor that I was and continue to be today. I vividly remember Pat Rankin, my coach, gritting her teeth and teaching with passion. The rest, as we say, is history.”
Currently a softball coach at Basehor-Linwood High School, Mayberry recorded her 300th win as a coach last week. That honor was not one that Mayberry was even aware of until she was presented with a trophy from her team.
“Achieving 300 wins is a tremendous accomplishment and BLHS is proud of the softball program coach Mayberry has built,” said Joe Keeler, BLHS assistant principal/athletic director.
Growing up in Kansas City, Kansas, Mayberry and her sister were the only two girls in her neighborhood. They spent hours playing sandlot baseball, football and basketball with the boys. Mayberry played fast-pitch softball during the summer until she entered college at Pittsburg State University in 1982.
She credits PSU coach Mary Nutter with teaching her more about the game than she could have ever imagined, but most importantly, Nutter taught her how to treat other people, to give back more than you take, and to be a teacher first to all students, and to not just be known to her students as a coach.
“Coach Nutter is the reason that I coach the way that I do today. My coaching philosophy and style mimics how she ran her program. Back then, scholarships were only available for pitchers and catchers as they are the backbone of fast-pitch softball. I was a walk-on who didn’t care about the money or scholarship. I just loved the game like I always have,” said Mayberry.
Her family moved to Basehor when Mayberry was beginning her freshman year in high school. That summer, she learned that a local Basehor youth team needed a coach. That was the beginning of her coaching career.
Mayberry played in a woman’s fast-pitch league and competitive slow-pitch teams. She retired from that sport at age 35 when she accepted a coaching job at BLHS. Prior to that, she was also a coach at Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission Northwest. She has been a coach and teacher at BLHS for 17 years and also teaches online classes for the Basehor-Linwood Virtual School.
“I just love the game. I love the competition. I love the challenge of molding a team together and seeing how good we can become. In high school, a coach doesn’t hand pick players. We take the girls who come out for the team who have a passion to learn, play the game hard, and have some skill and see what we can do. Every year it takes a different recipe to orchestrate a successful team.”
Mayberry instills on her team her expectations of being on time, doing their job, taking care of others before themselves, excelling in academics, doing things the right way, and thanking people for the smallest of gestures. She sees her role as to developing strong individuals who will become strong doctors, nurses, firefighters or engineers.
“If a coach takes care of the process, then we’ll see where we are at the end of the season. Working through adversity builds character, trust, and resiliency,” Mayberry said. “Softball is, of course, in my opinion one of the greatest platforms to learning life lessons and readying kids to meet the world head on.”
Beth Kornegay is a freelance writer covering news and events in the city of Basehor. If you have a story idea, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org