Ever since Lisa Phillips arrived at Carrollton (Georgia) High School 11 years ago, the program has transformed into one of the most steady in the state.
Prior to Phillips, Carrollton was still trying to establish a winning culture. Carrollton is now a perennial contender, most recently winning a region championship last season.
Overall under Phillips, Carrollton has captured four region titles and finished third in the state tournament once.
Phillips, who has coached high school softball for 20 years, was inspired to take up the craft by one of her coaches after playing collegiately at West Georgia.
Despite already having a business degree, Phillips went back to school for teaching, which got her into the coaching field at the age of 22.
Given her educational background and experience learning from her own coaches, Phillips knows as well as anyone that a coach has to take his or her role as a teacher seriously. “I had a coach that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time. She urged me to give coaching a chance,” Phillips said. “I haven’t really looked back since.”
“I’m one of those that has high expectations for each kid, but I’m going to teach them more about life than I do about softball,” Phillips said. “At the same time I’m trying to maintain that competitive edge. So it’s a balance of expecting a lot, but at the same time being compassionate enough to understand that it is a game.”
The on-field lessons that Phillips prioritizes can also inform a player’s life off the field.
“I feel probably the biggest lessons you can learn are how to be a good teammate and how to be competitive,” Phillips said. “Also, little daily things like being on time, having the discipline to put forth the effort to make yourself better each day and to make others around you better, learning to want to see others succeed, and giving back to your community."
Phillips especially enjoys seeing her players come back to visit the program, and see how they’ve grown and developed as people. She considers it one of her greatest honors of being a coach.
“Even though they’ve left the program, they still come back to be a part of it,” said Phillips. “That says a lot about your program when you have kids that want to come back and respect the traditions and the things you taught them. It shows that beyond winning that you’ve impacted the student-athlete to the point that they want to come back.”
Phillips feels fortunate to have coaches that were positive influences on her. She had some advice for other prospective or new coaches.
“I think the best advice you can give someone is to say that you obviously have to have a passion for the game,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to have a passion to help student athletes push themselves. You have to have love for teaching the game. Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned over my career is that it’s really not just about wins on the field, it’s about the kids winning in life. It’s about trying to show them that it’s more to life than just softball. A lot of times that becomes their sole focus. So I really like to do a lot of community things and give them opportunities to grow as a person, not just as a softball player.”