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The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Chemistry and Coaching Drive Softball Team to Success

The+2024+FSS+Softball+Team
The 2024 FSS Softball Team

On a fall Saturday morning, Bill Klose, Friends Select Athletic Director and Softball Coach, is up with the sun to get to school by 7:30 am. He listens to his football talk shows on his drive and arrives at the school to set up for 8:45 practice. The team files in as their time approaches and they get to work. Hitting, fielding, and enjoying their Saturday morning together, they prepped for the season to come. 

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The softball team, currently playing in States, has seen a lot of success in the past decade. Three Friends League Championships, and a playoff appearance in every season since 2010 – the year Bill took over coaching. Bill got straight to work, but he says that the majority of the turnaround for the team was not in the practice regimen but in the mindset of the players on the field. “We made it so that if you wanted to play on the softball team, you had to work hard, and you had to be competitive,” said Bill. 

As mindsets changed and players dove deeper into an increasingly successful program, the work got harder. Practices are structured intricately at Friends Select. “The team often makes fun of me for my practice plans,” says Bill. “If you talk to an alum and ask ‘what time did practices start?’ they’d tell you 3:28 rather than 3:30 because we are to the minute so that we can stay focused during practice.” The real success, then, is in the intricate details that Bill sets in place. 

The Falcons kept winning and steamrolled their way into three Friends League Championships in four years. A powerhouse. Now, there are three yellow banners in the gym, from 2016, 2017, and 2019. What made those championships possible? “Talent on the team. Having that dynamic pitcher-catcher combo of Zina Robbins-Maldonado ‘16 and Sesley Cruz ‘16 gave us two of the best players in the league,” explains Bill. “Everyone around them saw their talent and did what they could to take it to another level as well.”

Bill feels continuous fulfillment for these successes. “When I see the banners in the gym, I feel so proud of those student-athletes. That last [success] was in 2005, and we got so close before we finally got ours. Then the floodgates opened.” Five championship games in seven years. Three league titles. It’s hard to argue with success like that, but Bill’s favorite memories come from developing players new to softball into solid varsity starters. He says nothing makes him more proud than seeing softball players become leaders in the community and speak at graduation or be part of student government.

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In April of 2022, Margot Schnieder ‘22 was on the precipice of her 100th hit for the Varsity Softball Team. When Bill realized she was going to surpass the milestone, he contacted the other five players who had done the same. He asked them each to send in a short video of them congratulating Margot on her accomplishment. Within minutes he had his responses, a testament to how tight-knit the team is, even beyond their years at the school. “I do still keep in touch with players who were a year above and below me and they are some of my good friends,” says Margot.

Margot talks about her favorite memories fondly. “My freshman year, we won the Friends League which was pretty incredible. The intensity was a step up from what I was used to and it was so satisfying to get the win.” 

Margot captained the team in both 2021 and 2022. She took the job in stride as the only player from the class of 2022 on the team. “It was such an incredibly fun sport, team, and community that I was always happy and proud to contribute to and take a leadership role.” 

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Early on the first morning of their spring break, the Varsity softball team packed themselves into two vans and began a pilgrimage that many other teams from all across the country also partake in. Destination: Myrtle Beach, SC. On a trip like this for any team, there are many goals, most of which include improvements on and off the field. Early in the season, it is important to build a foundation to build around. “We’ve had to learn a lot about each other and that trip did a lot as far as bringing us together,” says Nora Marwaha ‘24. The team laid a solid base for their collaboration. 

Too much team chemistry can’t always make a team, but too little can always break one. The team never lacked in that department after their stint in the South. Through dinner at Margaritaville and late-night practices under the lights, they bonded and got closer than ever before in preparation for the upcoming season. 

Joana Santos ‘24 and Nora Marwaha ’24 were selected to lead the team as captains for their senior season. The team lost a lot of strong players from the class of 2023, and it was necessary to rebuild strength and strategy. “It’s definitely been a change and adjustment losing a bunch of our hitters from last year, but I’ve absolutely seen a bunch of improvements,” says Nora.

The team ground through most of the schedule, getting wins where they should but losing some close ones here and there. They made a major adjustment midway through the season, as the positional alignments were altered thoroughly. Joana came from her longtime home in the outfield to third base. Nora swapped middle infield spots, and Paloma Puig ‘25 headed to right field. Zoe Siegel ‘24 took on a new challenge next to Nora at second base. Rose Levine ‘24 honed in on her skills at first. There would be a new hurdle to endure during a playoff push. 

“The biggest thing for this team has been that people have had to adjust a lot, people have been thrown into new positions, and it’s been extremely impressive to see. So although we did lose some star players, a lot of players have stepped up this season to show other schools that there’s a lot of talent on this team,” says Joana Santos.

With one game left and their playoff streak on the line, the team headed to The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr. Saturday morning sacrifices and 12-hour van rides were not in vain. The Varsity Softball team got into the playoffs for the 15th consecutive season. Players were excited and happy to keep the incredible streak alive. 

Winning isn’t everything for the team. Bill knows it and the players know it. The good vibes are boosted when the going is good, but even on the rough days, the team sticks together. They don’t show each other up when someone makes a mistake, they pick one another up. Success can be measured in many ways and whether it’s championships or friendships in the dugout, Bill is always proud of his team. They lost in their playoff rematch to Shipley, but the energy was always there from the bench to the final out.

It says incredible things about a team when everyone has one another’s back. It makes winning and losing easier and lets the good times roll. Most importantly, it gives the players the confidence to succeed on and off the field. 

“We’ve had opposing coaches reach out to Bill and tell him how impressive our morale is,” Joana says. How loud we are cheering on the hitter when we’re batting. It’s awesome how we keep our heads and voices high even when we’re down. I don’t feel scared to make mistakes. I know if it happens, there will be someone there to say, ‘Hey Joana, don’t worry, you got the next one!’ and that is the biggest strength of this team.”

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Elliot Forman

Elliot Forman is a senior in the journalism class at Friends Select. He is a captain of the soccer and Quizbowl team and plays on the baseball team. Elliot covers sports for The Falcon, including FSS Basketball and Philadelphia sports.

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