Booker Blakley never thought he would be a softball coach. He didn’t even know he wanted to get into coaching until his senior year of college. His marketing degree from Southwestern proves that. But shortly after getting alternatively certified to teach, Blakley found himself coaching football, basketball, and baseball at John Marshall. The only problem was it wasn’t the right fit.
“Where I was for my first job wasn’t really a great fit for me,” Blakley said. “I was really looking for almost any job at that point and Okarche had a position open up that was at the time for softball and assistant basketball coach. The job turned out to be for softball only.”
This week eight years ago, Blakley was hired to coach the Lady Warriors. Before being hired, Blakley says he had seen one softball game in person. In his mind, the job was going to be a stop gap. Something to buy time until he could get back to coaching baseball—but then he fell in love with the sport.
“I was just trying to get out of a situation I didn’t really want to be in personally and I was willing to take anything at that point and funny enough it was softball,” Blakley said. “I thought I would do it for a year or two and get out, but I found something that I have a big passion for and something that I really love. At that time if you’d ask me if I would be coaching softball in 2019, I’d say probably not. But after two years into it? Definitely. I knew this was kind of what I was meant to do. It took me about a year or two to really figure out that this was what I wanted to do.”
Blakley’s Lady Warriors were successful out the gate, qualifying for the slow-pitch state tournament twice in his time there. He says the success helped him fall in love with the game, but despite the state tournament runs, he can’t look at softball the same way that he did when he was 22 years old.
“Having some success early didn’t hurt,” Blakley said. “But the relationships were just different from coaching boys to coaching girls. I just truly enjoyed it. The difference between softball and baseball is softball is baseball but better. I never would’ve thought I’d care about softball when I was 22 or 23, but now I can’t see it any other way.”
This fall, Blakley will enter his eighth season as a softball coach and his second season leading the Guthrie LadyJays. Fresh off his first-ever fast-pitch state tournament appearance last season, Blakley’s love for the game is as strong as it has ever been. He may have never thought he’d be coaching softball but now he says it helps him talk to people about what they want to do with their life.
“It helps me when I talk to the kids about what they want to do,” Blakley said. “I tell them to never assume that what they’re doing now is what they’ll be doing in the forever. What they think they want to do might change because it’s changed a bunch for me.”