• Centralia softball coach teaches youth through sports and service

    By Chris Mathews, Taylor Nakagawa and Haley Reed

    Even if you don’t live in Centralia, you’ve likely heard of the success of the Centralia High School softball team. What you probably haven’t heard of is its coach.

    Jill Angell has coached the Centralia Panthers softball team since 1999. For the past 15 years, she has built one of the most successful high school softball programs in mid-Missouri while still creating a tight-knit family atmosphere and leading by example.

    For Coach Angell, her guidance goes deeper than swinging a bat or fielding a ball. She creates good morals and a strong bond of friendship through her ability to unite team members and encourage service.

    Through her leadership, Angell has proven that softball can be a vehicle to teach and mold young women into successful and moral community members. Her emphasis on giving back to the Centralia community that has supported her program so much over the years has instilled a strong sense of service in her players.

    The Panthers get a lot of support from the town — parents volunteer their time to prepare meals for the girls before games and a grocery store has even donated meals and snacks to the team. “

    Probably one of the biggest things I want to teach my kids is to rely on and help each other,” Angell said. “Another thing is to give back to our community because this community for us is incredible. They have given us so much and done so much for us and I want them to know that.”

    In addition to coaching and teaching health class, Angell leads a service class at the high school, where she and her class put on service projects and focus on community outreach. Some children from Chance Elementary School got the opportunity to play games with students from the class at a field day on October 21 as a reward for good behavior.

    “Each class period we do a service project around town,” left fielder Kailee Chitwood said at the field day. “Today we were doing a thing for the elementary kids, kindergarten through second grade.”

    Many others have recognized Angell’s generous and giving spirit. In 2003, the Missouri House of Representatives honored Jill and her husband, Jed, as the Citizens of the Year. The National Federation of State High School Associations gave Jill the 2012 Missouri State Softball Coach of the Year award.

    Steve White, a former football coach and friend of Jill Angell, moved to Centralia six years ago and immediately noticed her appreciation for the community and her drive to help others.

    “It’s not all about athletics, either,” White said. “Any fundraiser, any church activity, where they’re trying to help some people out; that’s where she would rather be, where she can help somebody else.”

    Jill Angell’s softball program is successful for a variety of reasons. She uses a “buddy system” where she pairs upperclassmen on the team with younger players, in order to stress their importance to the team and create strong friendships. The team motto, “’We’ is greater than ‘me’,” stresses that the group’s interests outweigh the individual desires. Evidently, her techniques are working: they’ve won three state titles in four years.

    “We wanted them to understand that we as a whole is a lot more important than you,” Angell said. “We all walk on this field together, we’re all gonna win it together and we’re all gonna lose it together.”

    ----------Posted on December 10, 2014 by in Student Work

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