Once players, now coaches, Simone Miyahira and Simone Suetsugu are returning to help the Miami Dade College women’s softball team defend their national title.
The Brazilian natives were part of the Lady Sharks 2010 national championship team. They are back this season as student assistant coaches.
“I wanted them to share their experiences with our new team from their coaching perspective,” Head Coach Carlos Caro said.
Suetsugu and Miyahira help with office paperwork, weight training sessions and supervise the team’s study hall sessions.
On the field, Suetsugu contributes on the defensive side of the game. She is responsible for the physical preparation of the team and sending signals to the pitchers and catchers. Miyahira helps with pitching techniques and also keeps team statistics.
Infielder Kristen Exposito, a former teammate, said Suetsugu and Miyahira relate to them well because of their experience as players.
“I’m super proud of them, I think they deserve it; both are great coaches,” Exposito said. “Suetsugu works with our ground ball skills and warm-ups, Miyahira helps us with our hitting.”
Having played with some of the current players on the team such as Exposito, center fielder Stephanie Buendia and outfielder Veronika Fukunishi has been a challenge because most of the team sees them as players. However, once the season started, they had to adapt and respect them as coaches.
“Sometimes when I head out to the field, I feel like I am going to practice just like I used to,” Miyahira said.
Another reason the former players were added to the staff was due to their graduation status. Faced with a language barrier and English for Speakers of Other Languages classes, the setback led to a late graduation.
Miyahira and Suetsugu were offered student assistant coaching positions. In return, their classes are paid for.
After graduation, Suetsugu plans to play two years at the University of Tennessee with the hopes of becoming a coach again in the future. Miyahira plans to return to Brazil with hopes of extending her career there.
“I’m used to being a part of a team, rather than helping guide one,” Miyahira said.