At a time when women are, at very least, gaining a louder voice in our society, it’s refreshing to know a glass ceiling has been cracked in sports: 2008 Olympic (Bremerton, Wash.) high school graduate Kelsey Anchors is the first female coach of a high school boys baseball team in Oregon.
Anchors, who lives in Medford, Oregon, was hired last year at North Valley High School in nearby Grants Pass as a PE/health instructor and an assistant coach for softball and girls basketball. She earned a teaching certificate at St. Martin’s University in Lacey in 2015 and worked first as a substitute teacher and then as a fill-in PE instructor at Central Kitsap Middle School from January to June of 2016.
When the baseball position opened at North Valley at the end of last school year, first-year athletic director Tim Sam asked himself, why not Kelsey?
“When I first met Kelsey I was very impressed with her,” Sam said. “There’s a kind of subtle confidence and strength about her. When I found out her background in high school and college (star softball player at Olympic, making all-state her senior year and a solid four-year starter for Oklahoma State), I talked about her goals. She wanted to follow in her dad’s footsteps (Dusty Anchors coached softball at Olympic and now at Ridgefield in southwest Washington) and be a softball coach. We didn’t have that available, but we had the baseball job available.”
Because Sam felt it was highly important to have a coach in the building, he encouraged Anchors to apply for the position. Hiring her was an easy decision for Sam, who noted that a few high schools in the country have already hired women to coach football, and with Anchors’ background it was a no-doubter choice even though it had never been done in the state, and maybe not in the country.
Dusty Anchors said his daughter was hoping to become the school’s softball coach and was surprised when Sam asked her if she would be interested in coaching baseball. Kelsey took a few days to think about it and decided to go for it.
According to Dusty, there has been some blowback.
“I’m hoping she will have success,” said Dusty, who now lives in Battleground. “I know it will be a little rough from the beginning. She already had a couple parents say their sons will not play for a female coach.
“She said, ‘oh well, that is their loss. I’m moving on. Not much you can do about it. I’m here to coach baseball. Who shows up is who I’m going to coach.’”
Anchors held her first baseball practice Feb. 26 and was pleasantly surprised that 19 boys showed up. Kelsey will coach her first game March 16 at home against Marshfield of Coos Bay. She will have good help. Her fiancé (Ryan Goodman), who played baseball at Oregon State, will assist and she has a parent volunteering who has experience as a pitching coach that can help get her over the difficulty of making the adjustment from softball pitching to baseball pitching. But pitching is the only facet of the game that will be vastly different — hitting, running, throwing, catching are the same as softball.
“The fundamentals are the same in baseball and softball from throwing and hitting,” Anchors said. “To get the kids to understand that, this is going to be my first hurdle.”
As far as the pitching goes, Anchors says, “I’m going to learn just as much as the boys learn. My fiancé knows the game more than I do because he played it, and he played softball – that’s where were met – and he can teach pitching.”
Anchors certainly has the athletic credentials. She started playing softball at age 3 in T-Ball and was on a travel squad when she was seven. She went on to set Olympic High records in just about every softball category and was all-Olympic League her last two years, as well as all-state her senior season.
She then played four years as a top defensive centerfielder for Oklahoma State, which is a national softball power.