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Solebury coaches build softball program from the ground up


The New Hope-Solebury Middle School softball program finished its inaugural season this spring with a 4-4 record.

The season had its downs, such as when the team faced larger middle schools like Unami and Holicong and struggled. It also had highlights, the most impressive of which were no-hitter pitching performances by Mabel Klossner and Dagny Mobley.

Klossner’s and Mobley’s success and the performance of the middle school softball team is the result of years of preparation and training by coaches John Madara and Doug Brindley.

Madara decided to start coaching the Solebury Township U8 team after his daughter, who he coached in softball previously, went to high school. It was during this experience that he met Brindley, whose daughter, Harper, was playing on the team. It was at this point that the coaches decided to stick with this team and continued to coach the same group of girls as they moved to older age groups. They continued this trend into middle school by recreating the school’s team and they intend to continue to coach them in high school, either as assistants or the head coaches.

“My [intention] has always been, and Doug has followed me, is that we’re going to see this thing through.” claimed Madara. “Maybe one day, there’ll be a banner hanging in the high school gym saying that we were able to win the championship.”

Brindley credited Madara with the team’s continuity and the fact that they were able to bring back the middle school team. “I think the other critical aspect of John’s contribution here is that over the years, he built up the program and girls have stayed with it,” he said. “Under John’s leadership, the parents and the girls had fun and started learning. And they’ve stuck with it in an unusually large number.”

The coaches acknowledged the struggle that comes with keeping the girls together and interested in softball throughout the years. Part of their approach includes keeping the girls and their families as involved as possible by focusing on developing their softball ability and character, as well as holding annual season ending pool parties. They ensure that every player plays every game and encourage the girls to acknowledge their coaches by name every time they greet them.

Madara commented on the importance of keeping everyone involved, “We always want them to all feel that they’re as much of a part of it as anybody else that’s on the team. That’s good for their egos. When you create a culture, meaning that you have good coaches and everybody’s on time, parents can always depend on you.”

Brindley touched on the dependability that Madara and himself have earned. Regarding Madara, he stated, “He’s spent a lot of his personal time and money in making sure they have the right tools, facilities, equipment and training, including from outside teachers in the area. The girls have seen a very competitive environment for a rec program and now they’re seeing even more in interscholastic sports.”

The coaches emphasized their pride in the entire team’s growth, while also discussing how Klossner’s and Mobley’s pitching performances made them feel as if their years of effort are beginning to pay off. Both players have been with the team since they started coaching U8 and much of their success can be attributed to the coaches’ commitment to their development. Madara and Brindley have encouraged them to participate in pitching clinics and Madara has bought Klossner a softball-related birthday present every year since he started coaching her.

Regarding their performances, Brindley said, “I really wasn’t expecting that. To go into one of these middle schools, which are all bigger and have many more players to choose from, and basically strike everybody out, with one or two exceptions of kids put into play and thrown out, was eye-opening. That’s how good their pitching is.”

He continued along these lines, “It was a very quiet afternoon for the opposing team because they just could not catch up. It wasn’t just speed, it’s control, command of the pitches and multiple pitches, not just throwing as hard as you can and throwing breaking pitches as well. So what’s most impressive to me is their consistency and their ability to command their pitches.”

Madara and Brindley will continue to try to improve their team as they move forward into high school. They stated the importance of building up the entire team, instead of just relying on quality pitching. “I don’t think we played a team that had better pitching … where we have to get better is in the surrounding environment,” explained Brindley.

Madara emphasized that development is the goal and that they are preparing these girls to potentially play in high school. He said, “We’ve been telling the girls that this is all, even middle schools, just development. The big show comes in when you get into ninth grade. That’s what we’re trying to prepare them for.”