By Sammi Wellman
Cascade Collegiate Conference
CORVALLIS, Ore. — When it comes to Moe (Tutty) Boyle, she’s not afraid of stepping up to the plate and doing what’s best for the team, even if it’s something unexpected.
The Carroll College head volleyball coach took on a new role this spring after Director of Athletics Charlie Gross asked her to fill in as the Saints’ softball coach.
“[The AD] called me and said, ‘Moe, what do you think?'” said Boyle, a Butte native.
After the former CC softball coach resigned in August, Carroll appointed a new coach in September. A week before the season was to start, however, he started dealing with some extreme health issues and didn’t think he could do it so he stepped down.
“I immediately said, ‘yes,'” said Boyle when Gross called. “If I had put my own volleyball athletes in that position, I would hope they would find someone to fill in. It was what was best for the athletic department.”
The ask didn’t come out of left field, however, as Boyle had coached college softball before. It just might have been almost 20 years ago.
“I’m grateful [Gross] had the faith in me to ask,” said Boyle. “I felt I needed to do it for the student-athletes. I did get off the phone thinking, ‘Oh crap. What am I going to do?'”
Like any new coach, Boyle met her team.
“I was first introduced to the six softball seniors,” said Boyle. “They were so kind. I gave them the opportunity to ask me questions and told them I knew softball, so I think there was some relief there. They weren’t sure if they were even going to have a season, but our athletic department would’ve made sure they did.”
“I tried to reassure the rest of the team when I talked to them,” added Boyle. “We were putting them in a weird spot with another new coach in a short amount of time. I just kept saying, ‘We’re going to be OK. We’re going to play and have fun.'”
While Boyle doesn’t know what the other solution would have looked like, she didn’t care. She was committing fully to her new team and tried to immerse herself back into the softball world.
“I came into the season not knowing any of them,” said Boyle of her new squad. “I didn’t know any of their histories. I’m trying to put the best product on the field at the moment.”
Pouring into softball, however, meant sacrificing coaching her volleyball team.
This spring was the first time the Saints would get a spring volleyball season, something they were all looking forward to, so Boyle was afraid of the conversation with her team.
“That was my fear: talking to them,” said Boyle. “Spring is the time when new players get a chance to step up. I was afraid to tell them I wouldn’t be coaching them, but they were unbelievably supportive. I never felt anything negative. They were very supportive of me.”
Boyle also noticed there has been more engagement between the softball team and the rest of the department since she took on the role.
“Our department has wrapped its arms around them,” said Boyle. “It’s been a tough couple of years for them.”
Not only have the Saints endured pandemic seasons with uncertainty lurking every corner, but they now have also had three coaches – including one surprising one – in a short amount of time.
Just like in softball, though, there comes a time when you lay down a bunt as a sacrifice to advance a runner and Boyle hopes her new team can learn from her and step up when the time is right.
“I hope what they can learn from me is that sometimes you just have to step up to something,” said Boyle. “It might not be what you expect, but it’s what’s best overall.”
If the Fighting Saints – accurately named – have taught Boyle anything, it’s to be resilient.
“They’ve taught me resilience,” said Boyle. “What they’ve gone through and still come to practice with relatively no complaining. And I’m sure I’m a different style of coaching to them, especially with the running.
“I don’t think I can teach them more than what they’ve taught me, though,” added Boyle. “I love coaching softball and I’ve gotten to know new student-athletes I probably wouldn’t know otherwise. I’m very grateful.”