UCLA - History Major, African American Studies Minor
Tairia Flowers lives for "walking out to the field … to play and watch the game I love." And as Head Softball Coach for California State Northridge, she gets to do just that. An All-American at UCLA, as well as a two-time Olympian with both a gold and silver medal to her credit, Tairia relies on her on-field experience to help the young women she coaches become better softball players and ultimately better people.
Although it took some getting used to, Tairia has approached stepping from the field to the dugout head on. She realized early in her career that the key to life is hard work, practice and a positive attitude. She'll be the first to say she's never relied on the luxury of "natural gifts," but rather understood that being the best can take practice. Keeping that philosophy in mind, she's always striving for more from both her team and herself, often asking, "Did I put [my team] in the best possible position to succeed? What can I do better?"
You can only control two things: your effort and your attitude.
What does it feel like to be a former Olympian with both a Gold and Silver medal?
It's amazing to say that! I had such a wonderful experience. Not only winning medals, but creating lifelong friendships and traveling the world. It took a lot of hard work, but it was worth every moment. And the transition -- going from training for the Olympics to coaching the USA Softball Women's National Team -- any time you change your role, it takes some getting used to, but with already being a part of USA Softball and having a great relationship with my coaches, it went pretty smoothly. The players are great people too, so that always makes things easier.
What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
My job is managing people. As college coaches, our job is to help these young ladies get a degree, help them become better softball players (and people) and allow them to enjoy the overall experience. I'm also busy creating practice plans, setting recruiting schedules and scheduling when we'll go out and watch our prospects, writing emails or sending letters, checking in with academic services regarding our current athletes, filing papers for traveling or ordering equipment. It's not all glamorous, but I love it!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Walking out to the field knowing I get to play and watch a game that I love.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Did I prepare my team? Are we ready? Did I put them in the best possible position to succeed? What can I do better?
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Not really. My husband coaches women's college basketball and we just know what it means to be busy. Ever since we've been married, I've traveled with softball. It's actually slowed down since I've retired from playing. We understand the phone can't ring all night, so we make a practice plan and then relax. We make sure to sit down to eat together to move on from the day. The best balance in our life right now is our two-year old son. When we get home, he lets us know it's time to play. We may tag team to make sure we get a phone call in to a recruit, but it's hard not to clear my mind when I see our little guy. He turns a good day into a great day!
What are some of the rules you live by?
You can only control two things: your effort and your attitude. You can't control the outcome -- or a call by an umpire -- but you do have control over how hard you play and how you react to each situation.
I'm a worker. I have some natural gifts, but not as many as a lot of my old teammates. I had to PRACTICE -- a lot -- so I believe hard work and a positive attitude can take you extremely far in life.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
Motivation, knowledge of the game and care for people and their development.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Be more confident.
A lot of women think that you cannot have a family and be a head coach, both are just too demanding. What do have to say to that?
My answer? Yes, it's tough, but you can do both. If you have a strong support system -- family, friends and assistant coaches -- you can do anything. You manage your time, so go full speed when in the moment, and then know how to have balance and when it's time to separate the two. Don't let the fear of time and the unknown stop you from living a dream that includes career and family.
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