| By Myra Bean
The North Delta fastpitch softball team had something to look forward to when they started practice yesterday morning.
Former Ole Miss players Brooke Turner, center fielder, and DeDe Justice, catcher, are the new coaches for the team.
This will be a new turn for most of the players who have in the past only been coached by parent coaches.
"We are going to be harder on them," said head coach Turner. "We are going to be running more than they are probably used to and doing different exercises."
Turner originally hails from Southaven High School and Justice from Vero Beach High School in Vero Beach, Fla.
According to Turner, she was approached about the job from parent-coach Preston Lawrence. Lawrence and Turner’s father, Steven Turner, are good friends.
Turner did not make the statement about working harder and differently to scare the girls, but to let them know things will be different.
"We played high school, college and now coached this summer," Turner said. "We actually have both sides as a player and a coach. That kind of helps us a lot."
Justice said with them being so fresh out of playing college ball, they will structure practice similar to that.
"We’re not going to be as demanding (as college), but they are going to run," Justice said. "They are going to practice and do drills and stuff like that. It will be a completely different scene than what they are used to with the parent coaches who might not have as much as experience with softball where we have four years of high school and four years of college.
"We know how to structure practices and the drills we need to do to win ball games," Justice added. "We are not so far in coaching that we forgot what being a player is about."
One thing that caught the new coaches by surprise were the amount of games the private school teams play per week. North Delta is scheduled to play an average of three games per week.
"In our high school we played like twice a week," Turner said. "We started in February and ended in May. Ours was scattered out."
As for playing college ball, Turner said it was like a job.
"We had to be there," she said. "You didn’t have a choice what you did. It paid our way through school."
Justice explained the wrong concept most people had about college athletes.
"It’s hard," Justice said. "A lot of people think athletes slip by and it’s easy. With traveling, you have to work time schedules and know how to schedule when you eat, sleep, study."
She said a lot of studying in the spring was actually on a bus.
"A lot of times if we played doubleheaders on Saturday and a single on Sunday, we would have time after the games on Saturday to study and if you had a test on Monday, you would study on the bus or the plane trip all the way back home," she said. "You might as well study because it is really hard to sleep on the bus."
Before practice started, the coaches had only met five team members and they liked that.
"I feel it’s a good position for us," Justice said, "because then we can take what we see in practice and what we are trying to accomplish in practice and see how hard they are willing to work. If players are not willing to work, then they are not going to play."
Turner’s main goal is to see that the team improves over last season.
"I just want to see them get better," she said. "It will take time. From our first ball game to our last, I want to see a difference player wise. We are going to stick the best nine out there.
"Nobody’s guaranteed a spot right now," Turner continued. "We didn’t see them last year. We are going to ask what’s their position but they may not play there."
Turner’s also the daughter of Pam Ashford of Southaven and she has one sister.
Justice’s parents are H.L. and Deloris Justice in Florida. She is the baby of the family with one older sister and one older brother
"My parents are begging for me to come back home," Justice said. "I am not ready to go back just yet."
The Lady Green Waves will open the season tuesday, August 1, at home hosting Kirk Academy in A and B games beginning at 4 p.m.