ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was a connection that almost didn't have a chance to happen. As UTA coach Peejay Brun picked up the phone, she didn't realize she had the wrong number for who she was trying to reach.
Two months later, the first-year UTA softball staff are laughing together like they have known each other for years, despite just recently having each other's numbers saved in their phone. In the first of a three-part series, we meet assistant coach Charlotte Morgan, a three-time All-American at Alabama and head coach of the National Pro Fastpitch Akron Racers.
Morgan's journey to Arlington is one that has seen achievements both on and off the field. She was a two-time SEC player of the year for the Crimson Tide, a No. 1 selection in the NPF Draft, an assistant at Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech and the head coach of the Racers, a position she still holds.
With the vast experience across several levels, she has soaked it all in and admits that the adversity faced along the way has only helped develop what makes up her coaching style today.
"From my playing experience, I was a pretty diverse player," Morgan said. "I was able to pitch, hit and play first so I think my knowledge of the game and being at the high levels of the SEC and pro league I was able to learn so much and went through a ton of adversity so all of those things have shaped me into the coach I am today. It makes me really relatable to my athletes and I am able to get them through things they are going through and make it realistic to them that everybody goes through it, even the best of the best and sometimes you lose focus of that."
When Brun was named the skipper of the Maverick softball program, she was unsure of who would make up her coaching staff, but that she wanted to be able to get a top choice that could continue the development of the program.
As candidates were interviewed, it was a phone call that stood out.
"The call just went really well," Brun said. "It didn't feel forced and we were just talking. It wasn't as if it was an interview and we wanted to see if she was interested. I felt so at ease in just talking to her. My next thought was that I needed to get her on campus and meet her face-to-face.
"What got me was just her excitement, she had interviewed for another job but she talked to me about a sense of urgency and I needed to have people that were on the same line with me. The fact that she was a pitching coach on three Power 5 teams, and was exposed to the best levels, I knew that if I brought her in that id be able to have her help get us the right talent and know how to coach them."
The connection between Brun and Morgan seemed like a perfect fit as both reiterated how much their initial conversation just felt like they had known each other for years. The new staff quickly got to work once they stepped onto campus, but the hard work was just beginning.
Morgan saw the importance of making sure that there was a trust level between the staff and the team, especially with a three-person staff that was being looked at as strangers in their first year with the team. However, it didn't take long before the trust was earned and the student-athletes were ready to work hard to meet the staff's expectations.
"Coaching in the Power 5 for five years and being the head coach of a professional team, when you are coaching collegiately the athletes are young but they are still developing you have to guide them, but it is the first time they are usually away from home and first time they are dealing with a lot of stresses from school to relationships so collegiately you deal with a lot of personal things," Morgan said. "Professionally, these kids have all been great and have been successful in the programs they have been in so I have to manage them more rather than hold their hand. The one thing I've noticed is that no matter what level it is, they need to know that I'm there and to know that I care about them and I'm paying attention to them, listening to them, and once they know that you care, then they trust you and that is the biggest thing that I've learned from being at all different levels."
Now moved into the Softball Clubhouse, accomplishments on the wall, decorations on the desk and an open door that sees the ladies walk in and out, there is still an excitement for what is next.
But for the coaching staff, that is what makes the rest of the journey so sweet.
"It is honestly a lot of fun," Morgan said. "With all of our personalities, Peejay is high energy and is more open. Megan Coronado, being younger, is the spark plug of the group. I am a little bit of the low key one. They keep it light and they keep me laughing. We can be ourselves and can be goofy or serious or whatever it is, there is no judgment. We still have patience for one another as we are still learning.
"I want to enjoy going to the office and coaching with who I am, but it is a lot of fun and light and I couldn't ask for a better situation when it comes to not knowing the staff or head coach. She has embraced my personality and who I am and everything I've gone through so I am just happy to be here."
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