Once a Coug, always a Coug

Katie Aden - Softball-4 IMG_3868.heic IMG_3877.heic
Katie Aden has been nationally recognized by being named Easton/NCFA Assistant Coach of the Year for 2022. Photos byAaliyana Balderas.

Katie Aden, the Assistant Softball Coach here at Clackamas Community College, has been nationally recognized by being named Easton/NCFA Assistant Coach of the Year for 2022. The Clackamas Print had the pleasure of speaking to Aden on her successes, struggles and experiences playing softball and becoming a coach. 

The Clackamas Print: How long have you been involved with softball?

Katie Aden: I’ve been playing since I was gosh, eight, and then played through college. I played at CCC for two years, and then I went on and played at Concordia University for two years. As soon as I was done playing, I coached at Concordia as an assistant for a year. I came back here and coached as the assistant for three years, then I went up to Centralia College. I was the assistant there for one year and the head coach for two years. And then I came back last year and was back here last year, and now this is my second year being back as the Assistant.

TCP: Why did you choose to coach at CCC?

Aden: Wanting to coach here was always something I had thought about doing. When I played here, we actually won the Northwest Athletic Conference Championship in 2012. I just had such a good experience here. Like if I could have stayed here for four years, I would have. I loved my coaches. I loved my teammates. I just loved the atmosphere of Clackamas and how it was like a family vibe. Some of my best friends have come out of the school, Jess, who I’m coaching with, she was my coach. It was really like, just kind of the perfect fit. I knew that I wanted to coach other girls who were going to play here because of the experience that I had, I wanted to give back to them what I had gotten out of it. When I went to school here, I actually moved out this way, even though it was only 20 minutes from my house, but I told my parents like, look, if I’m going to be going to school there, I’m moving out and getting that college experience. It’s nice to be back in my hometown, and I know this is where I want to be.

TCP: What are your duties as Assistant Coach?

Aden: I am fully in charge of the outfield. I played outfield, so that’s my specialty. But other duties include recruiting, and I work a lot with the infield and hitting, we do a lot just as a cohesive team. But I would say primarily, my strength is outfield and hitting. 

TCP: Were you nominated for your Assistant Coach of the Year award?

Aden: Jess, the head coach is the one who nominated me and then it had to be voted on by other coaches in the NWAC. It’s an honor, super, super huge honor. The girls would tell you that I have a lot of energy, and I try to be in a really good mood every day. It’s just nice to see that what I am giving to them I’m getting back as well.

TCP: What has come from being named Assistant Coach of the Year and how did it feel?

Aden: It felt incredible. I didn’t even know I had been nominated. I just found out that I had won. I was like, wait, what is going on? It’s been really cool. Some of the things that have come from it are recognition from other coaches in the NWAC, but also nationally, because we went to the National FastPitch Coaches Association Conference, which is where you receive it and so there’s a bunch of schools there. It’s nice to be recognized on a bigger level. I have people now reaching out to me wanting private lessons and stuff, which is great. The biggest thing that’s come out of it is definitely knowing that what I’m doing is making an impact with the girls and the other coaches in the league.

TCP: Have you had any struggles as a coach?

Aden: We don’t get paid enough to make this a full time job. One of the biggest struggles is really committing the time and making sure that I’m also still making a living, because this is what I love to do. If I could do this full time, and this be my only job? 100%. That’s just not the reality. So I would say that’s a big struggle. It’s just kind of balancing like life work softball. The good part about that is I’ve been doing this since I was little, so it’s like, I’ve never had a season where I wasn’t going to practice or, even when I was done playing, you know, because I was coaching. I’d say that’s a struggle. The other struggle is with the COVID years and everything that has happened, a struggle is keeping this next generation of kids and students engaged for a long period of time. I feel like social media has taken over a lot of things, we’re so used to scrolling and clicking through things, it’s really like making sure, you know, our attention span can stay for a long period of time. Those are really the only struggles that I’ve really dealt with. I mean, I’ve been super blessed to have absolutely incredible players. They really give their all even when we practice at 7:30 in the morning.

TCP: What are your goals for the softball team at CCC?

Aden: Well, we want to win a championship, that’s a big goal. At the end of the year, everybody from the NWAC comes together, and it’s a double elimination tournament. That’s like, all the marbles. We got 3rd last year, but we better be winning a championship. We have the talent. The girls are great. We have athletes from California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon. It’s time, the talent that we have on this team this year, is without a doubt some of the best talent we’ve had in years. It’s time girls, let’s make it happen. I would say the other goals that we have as far as our team goes, we want them to be really good students. Academics come as a huge importance, and I feel like not just us as a coaching staff, but all the coaches on campus really feel that way towards their athletes and just making sure that we always set them up for success in life. I think coming to a regular practice every day, and having this responsibility really helps prepare them for that. 

TCP: What are your goals as a coach?

Aden: I would love to become the head coach here, whenever Jess decides that she’s ready to leave. I’ve looked into going to a higher level, and that’s still an open option, but I just love it here and I know that I can do this. I love the kids that come here. I like being able to send them on to that four year and being a stepping stone for them in that aspect. So yeah, I would say my biggest goal right now is to become the head coach here at some point.

TCP: Is there anything you want your athletes to know?

Aden: I think the biggest thing that I can say is once a Coug, always a Coug. We love our squad. It’s hard to be a college athlete, and we get that, we’re here to support them. These girls have been absolutely incredible. Even though I’m their coach, I would say that more than anything they have given so much to me as a person and just feeling overjoyed with the amount of love and friendships and the fact that I get to be a small part of their lives.

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Aaliyana Balderas