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Janessa Deckwa taking over Poplarville softball program

Janessa Deckwa has been named the new head coach of the Poplarville High School softball program following previous head coach Jonathan Ray’s move to assistant principal.

Deckwa has been an assistant coach with the Lady Hornets for three years and is now embracing the opportunity to take over the program she once played for as a high school athlete.

She’ll be taking over a team that had its season cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but nevertheless Deckwa said she’s excited to be at the helm.

“I definitely would say that’s been a goal of mine. You spend years as an assistant coach to learn things. To learn those things and apply them to a program, that has been something I’ve looked forward to,” Deckwa said.

As an assistant coach Deckwa’s responsibilities ranged from being in charge of the weight-training program to helping run practices.

Having spent years under Ray’s tutelage as both a player and coach has allowed Deckwa to build up the necessary understanding of what it takes to run a successful softball team.

“Being organized, planned out and prepared. Those are things that have always been important to him. (That) and just having a high level of competitive attitude every day,” Deckwa said.

There won’t be any wholesale changes made to the program with the squad’s success over the years indicating the team was progressing positively.

Instead, the new head coach intends to mold the program into her vision and be reflective of her style of coaching. “Just taking those core values that we’ve had in the program and just continuing along that path, then slowly working who I am into the program,” Deckwa said.

Another goal will be to make sure each athlete is prepared to succeed after high school.

Whether it be in college, athletics or any other path, Deckwa wants to make sure her players are ready for whatever challenges they face.

“It’s a goal of mine to teach these girls about life through softball. I hope they can take different things they learn and apply it to their future. Maybe it will help them be successful in different areas,” Deckwa said. Deckwa said taking over a program in the midst of a pandemic wasn’t how she envisioned accepting her first head coaching role, but she has an advantage over other coaches who may be taking charge of new teams. Her years as an assistant with the Lady Hornets has led to the formation of relationships with players, which may ease the transition.

“I do think we’ve established that trust already. Being able to move forward with them already knowing me, my personality and what I expect of them I think is very beneficial,” Deckwa said. June 1 is the current date set by the Mississippi High School Athletics Association for athletic activities to start up again.

Following the resumption of athletics Deckwa said she will hold tryouts for all returning players to see if everyone still has the skills to be a part of the squad.

Following tryouts there will be team meetings and then practices twice a week, along with the possibility of some competitive games against local schools.

Deckwa is ready to get back on the field and she’s sure her athletes are too.

“I just want to get the girls together and have some fun. They’ve been through a challenging time and been at home for a while. I just want them to enjoy something and I think they’ll be happy to get back together,” Deckwa said.