POWHATAN -- From her storied coaching career - one that has spanned half a century and features 34 district championships, 21 state tournament appearances, two state runner-up finishes and five state championships - Linda Farmer particularly remembers the players she coached across all of those years. She praised their dedication - their willingness to come out and work hard.
Their love for the game.
“Just great kids,” Farmer said. “We’ve been blessed with talent, but, more importantly than that, we’ve been blessed with good people, and that’s so important.”
On Wednesday, many of those former players came out to celebrate the 50 years that Coach Farmer has dedicated to coaching Powhatan Softball.
“I can’t tell you what that meant to me. That was just an overwhelming day for me, it really was, just to know that softball has meant so much to them and that I possibly played a part in hopefully making them better people and certainly making them responsible citizens," Coach Farmer said. "That’s been my goal all along, and it was overwhelming to see all of them come back today.”
Coach Farmer first started coaching softball in the spring of 1972. She remembers how they used to have all of their games and all of their practices at Lonesome Oak Field near the Administration Building. Usually their run of the day consisted of going from home plate to the oak tree and back.
One of the many players that Farmer coached was Marie Crump, who first played under Coach Farmer in her first year of high school, graduated from Powhatan High School in 1976 and James Madison University in 1980 and became Powhatan’s head softball coach in 1981.
Coach Crump and Coach Farmer have been working side-by-side ever since, and along with the hundreds of players they have coached, they have built one of the most successful and storied softball programs in Virginia.
Earlier in the year, Powhatan High School senior and current varsity softball player Emmalee Lawson said she was always told that “if you were playing for Coach Crump and Coach Farmer, that you were blessed, because they’re some of the best coaches in Virginia, and have been for everyone to know.”
“It’s been great, and I wouldn’t want to coach with anybody else,” Coach Crump said. “It’s always special when you’ve been able to maintain the same coach, and I think that says a lot to the program, and I think that’s one reason we’ve had the success that we’ve had - just consistency.”
“She was a pretty incredible athlete herself,” Coach Farmer said of Coach Crump. “She loves the game just like all the other kids, but softball is just a very contagious sport.”
To Coach Farmer, one of the common traits shared by all of the different players who have come through the program over the past half-century has been their love of softball.
“Softball’s a great game, and I love it, and the kids loved it, and we just share that love,” Farmer said. “It’s just an incredible game.”
And you can tell, Crump said, that Coach Farmer “loves the game, and she loves working with the players, and that’s what it’s all about.”
During the ceremony, the group of current and former players, administrators, teachers and coaches who came out to celebrate Coach Farmer’s 50 years of coaching stretched all the way across the lower diamond of Powhatan’s softball field from third base to first.
With her players, both past and present, standing behind her, Coach Farmer gestured to them, emphasizing their role in Powhatan Softball’s successes over the decades.
“They are the reason I’m here,” Farmer said. “A lot of people have asked me… ‘Why do you stay in coaching so long?’ And it’s because of them, because, every year, I say, ‘Well, maybe it’s time,’ and then a new group comes in and you say, ‘I can’t leave these kids hanging.’ You go right back to it.”
Softball has been a huge part of Coach Farmer’s life.
“I don’t know what I’d do without it...I’d get bored to death,” Farmer said with a laugh. “But hopefully I’ve had an influence on some of the kids’ lives and have helped make them better people and better citizens. That’s been my goal.”