Lead by example – this is what Caitlin Richards does as Captain of the Teaneck High School Softball Team.
“She gives it all she’s got, that’s what I love about her. She’s an example of what I preach to the team: Go hard, and give it everything you have,” said her coach Rich Aponte.
In the 2010 high school season Caitlin switched from playing center field to catcher. She had played a few games at catcher last season in anticipation of making the transition. The change was initiated by Aponte and she was open to the suggestion.
The move proved to be a lot of fun for Caitlin, though she always loved to play outfield. She feels being behind the plate gives her more control over the game. Her offense actually improved with the position switch. Last season, as a junior, she had a batting average of .397, with 31 RBI. In 2010 she had an average of .514, with 12 RBI, at the halfway point. “I get a better view of the pitching strategy. I can anticipate what’ll be coming when I’m at bat. I think this year (2010) has been the best year for me offensively,” Caitlin said.
Aponte has given her the nickname “Hurricane”. “After a game it looks like she’s been through a hurricane, he explained. “She’s a tough girl, tough as nails”.
Caitlin has been playing softball since the age of six, when her mother got her involved in a recreation league. The experience of starting so young has paid off at the high school level. She made the varsity team as a sophomore, batting .289 and playing center field in her first season. She progressed every season since and 2010, her senior year, was the best.
Caitlin believes playing high school sports is beneficial to preparing teenagers for adult life. “It builds character and teaches life skills,” she said. “I love the family aspect of being on a team.”
Caitlin was also Co-Captain of the Girl’s Varsity Soccer Team. She was involved in the HEAL program, a girl’s mentoring group which stands for Help Each other Achieve Longevity. She was also a member of the Teaneck High School Class Cabinet and Peer Leadership Youth Group.
She considers herself as having been an average student, having gotten As, Bs and a couple of Cs on her last report card. She is more of an above average student, though, as she’s been accepted to Stony Brook University on Long Island. Caitlin admits she works hard to keep up her good grades. Though she did not get a scholarship to Stony Brook, she plans to try out for softball as a walk-on. “I want to have a part-time job in college. I’ll have to see if I can balance a job, school work, and softball,” she said.
Caitlin believes her coach admires her open-mindedness and values her opinion. Before moving her to catcher full time, Aponte asked her about making the change. “She’s a great leader, everything you can ask for in one. She’s competitive and inspirational, and that rubs off on the rest of the team. I could tell right away that she was going to be my captain. When things go wrong, she’s the first one to calm everyone down. She will be a great coach some day.”