Gilroy – Even as a high school softball player at Mountain View’s Saint Francis in the mid-90’s, Catherine Hallada remembers hearing about the success of the softball teams in the South Valley area.
Now, Hallada will be in charge of one.
Hallada, a former St. Mary’s College shortstop, was recently named the new Gilroy High varsity softball coach. The 25-year-old will also teach physical education at the high school.
Hallada replaces former coach Julie Berggren, who this spring announced she would be moving out of the area at the end of the school year after three years at the helm.
“I mean, ever since I was in high school, all the Gilroy and Salinas (schools) have always been top softball teams,” Hallada said. “They’re always good competition. I’m excited.”
Hallada comes to Gilroy by way of her alma mater Saint Francis, where she coached the junior varsity team for two years. The 2001 St. Mary’s graduate has also coached for the Mountain View Chaos traveling team and several softball camps.
Hallada was a three-year varsity player for Saint Francis, where she spent time at shortstop and on the pitching mound. On a softball scholarship to St. Mary’s, Hallada stopped pitching and focused on short, but still tutored younger pitchers during the summers.
Gilroy High athletic director Jack Daley was happy to find a good candidate who fit what the school was looking for.
“Our focus was to find somebody to teach and coach and she was a success,” Daley said. “She’s got a lot of energy.”
Daley was also pleased to find someone with both pitching and infield experience, since infield specialist and assistant coach Frank Reyes retired after this season.
And Hallada has fielded some of the game’s best hitters.
“It was a little nerve-wracking playing shortstop against UCLA’s top hitters,” Hallada recalled of her days at St. Mary’s, where she had the opportunity to go up against some of the country’s best players.
Since graduating from the Moraga school, Hallada has been working as a nanny while getting her teaching credential and Masters in teaching from National University.
Hallada started college studying psychology. But during the summer after her freshman year while working as a receptionist at Merrill Lynch, she realized teaching was what she wanted to pursue.
“I imagined sitting at Merrill Lynch at the front desk,” Hallada said. “It got so old after a while. I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to have a job where I sit at a desk all day.'”
She also knew she wanted still to be involved in softball.
“I wish I could play the rest of my life, but I’d probably kill my body,” Hallada laughed. “My body’s already done.”
Hallada can’t wait to start work in the fall. In the meantime, she’s searching for a place to live in Gilroy. Hallada’s grandparents are from the Garlic City, so she’s somewhat familiar with the area.
Hallada inherits a young team that went 14-14 with a tough schedule this past season and graduated just one senior, something the new coach sees as a positive.
“It’s nice to have group of girls that’s already set,” she said. “They’ll be good leaders, hopefully.”