FGCL Q&A: Michaela Transue on her coaching career, River Mocs’ early success

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During the collegiate season, Michaela Transue serves as the volunteer assistant coach at Missouri; she works with the Tigers’ outfielders and coaches first base. Transue graduated from Hofstra in 2018 after a four-year playing career with the Pride, and followed her head coach, Larissa Anderson, to Mizzou, where she initially served as a graduate assistant before being promoted to the volunteer assistant’s role for the 2020 campaign.

This summer, Transue is one of seven individuals serving as head coaches for the inaugural softball season of the Florida Gulf Coast League. Transue, along with assistant coach Camille Morgan, leads the Myakka City RiverMocs. During the first week of league play, the RiverMocs posted an undefeated 3-0 record, the only team in the league without a loss to that point. Lizzie Shubert, an infielder for the team, was named the first-ever JWOS Player of the Week for the FGCL after a week’s performance that included three home runs and a batting average better than .500.

Following her team’s impressive start, Transue sat down with JWOS to talk about coaching in the FGCL; preparing for her first head coaching role; the lessons that she’s learned from her coaching mentors; and more.

Justin’s World of Softball: How did you first hear about the FGCL, and what made you want to get involved with the league?
Michaela Transue: I was actually at the coach’s convention this past November. They reached out to Coach [Bill] Edwards, who was my head coach at Hofstra for one year and the predecessor to Larissa Anderson, to see if he would coach a team. He couldn’t swing it because he had a lot going on, and recommended me because he knew that I was just getting into coaching and he thought it would be a really good experience. So once he recommended me, Ryan Moore reached out and a couple other people were involved in the interview process and then honestly, at the first chance I got, I jumped on it because I thought it was just so great for our sport. I think it’s just going to make the game grow even more, and it was the best opportunity to get some head coaching experience with a high-level athlete.

JWOS: At that time, you thought you’d go from the end of a D1 season into the FGCL without much time between them, but that obviously didn’t happen. Did the fact that you had so many extra months of “free time” change how you prepared going into the season?
Transue: Oh, for sure. There was a point in time where we weren’t sure if [the FGCL]was even going to happen. But because Florida has been pretty open for a while leading up to it, I was just so excited to get out there. And you can just feel that with all the coaches and all the girls in the league; it’s been like everybody was itching to get back out on the field. We couldn’t wait, and really, we’ve been doing Two-A-Days; the girls want to come in, and they hit and go in and take some reps in indoor cages, and then later on we play, so it’s been completely foot on the gas, ready to go.

JWOS: What was your philosophy as a coach coming into the FGCL, in terms of how you want to work with your athletes and what you’re looking for from them?
Transue: I wanted to just manage the game and be a little more hands-off mechanically because obviously, all these kids are coming from different programs with different philosophies. But what I told the girls was to look to hit extra bases. We’re always looking to take two on everything. And I want them to really drive the gap. So in practice, that’s what we’ve been working on is to get some air underneath that ball and get it up in the air and try to drive it gap-to-gap. And you can see that from their numbers already, that their mentality is to drive that ball as hard as they can. I told them, ‘I’m okay with swings and misses. As long as you’re not trying to just put that ball in play. You’re really trying to drive it.’

JWOS: Tell me what it was like to have all of three days to get to know the ins and outs of your team.
Transue
: It was definitely a crunch. I think it was good the way that we set up mini camp; we were able to see everybody, and then flowing into the next few days, we were able to really hone in on our own team and be around our own kids. Getting to know them in their personalities, it was definitely a quick adjustment, but I think they all kind of came into their own. And we had an understanding from their side and from my side that, you know, I’m not trying to change a lot; I just want you guys to have a good mentality and go out there and swing.

JWOS: You come from a pretty solid coaching tree.  I’m guessing that you pulled some expertise and some tips from members of that tree. Is that fair?
Transue: Oh, absolutely. Everything that I’ve learned from Coach Edwards and Coach Anderson, I’m pulling out on these kids. I think it’s really helping propel the mentality of defense wins, but then those extra bases are gonna get us through; if you have a couple of runs on the team, then you are starting to feel a little more relaxed. So with that, I mean, everything they’ve taught me is exactly how I speak to my team, too.

JWOS: How different is this job from, say, when you’re volunteering at Mizzou? How big are the differences between the two?
Transue: Well, with the volunteer position at Mizzou, I have my specific things that I work with. I try to help Chris [Malveaux] with hitters as much as I can, and then I’m the outfield coach. Then with this league, I pretty much take over as everything. So it’s learning how to manage the game, learning how to write a good lineup, how to have your subs in mind in case something happens or you need another hitter. From the managing the game side of it, I’ve learned a lot already.

JWOS: As well as your team performed during the first week, where did you fall on the scale of being impressed with how they performed in the first few games?
Transue: I was very, very impressed with their mentality. They all have the skills, they’re all high level softball players, through and through. I have kids from the D3 level all the way up to the D1 level, but every single kid can play on that field and compete. I think what I really saw was that hungriness, like they haven’t been out there for so long, but now they’re just almost foaming at the mouth to get up to the plate and see that pitch live. And then on defense, they’re all out. I mean, I’ve had a couple kids lay out, make some big plays. They’re just out there playing as hard as they possibly can, and I think that’s what I was most impressed with. We definitely have to get better on our base running, but that’s just coming with playing live.

JWOS: Final question here for you: Why do you believe a league like this is important, especially to the sport of softball?
Transue: I think it’s important because these girls don’t have the opportunity, like baseball players do, to continue playing after college. There is the NPF and some other professional opportunities overseas, but all in all, there’s not as much of an opportunity. A lot of these girls just want to play as long as they can, so a league like this where there’s high-level competition, and not just a U23 team that was thrown together, is great. I think that what it’s going to do for our sport is propel everybody forward in their thinking of ‘I want to play as long as I can, I want to get as much experience as I can,’ so when that fourth year comes around, they have no regrets.

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