By Joseph Staszewski
Mary Louis varsity softball Coach Ginny Peiser has retired from the bench to devote more time to the G.O.A.L.S. youth softball league she founded in 2009. Junior varsity Coach and former TMLA all-city player ToniAnne Campuzano will take over next season, according to school Athletic Director Joe Lewinger.
Peiser’s passion has always been to help as many kids as possible learn the game of softball, and she will get a chance to do that more. She spent 12 years at the Jamaica Estates school, including 10 as the varsity coach. She and Lewinger were talking about the possibility of her needing to step away if she could not give a full effort to the Hilltoppers.
“It just became more and more difficult for me to devote time to,” Peiser said of Mary Louis. “I love being a coach. I love coaching the kids, but what I want to give back is a lot more than in just one place. I’d rather help hundreds of girls than just a handful.”
The G.O.A.L.S. league, which gives girls ages 9 to 12 a rare chance to play fast pitch softball on grass and dirt, will be expanding its program, requiring more of Peiser’s time. It is adding a 1,800-square-foot facility where league members can come to get pitching and hitting lessons and also tutoring when needed. Peiser wants to be available to the girls as she hopes to increase the overall quality of softball in Queens.
“Softball in Queens the last couple of years has gone downhill,” she said about the quality of players in the borough.
Peiser applauded Lewinger’s choice of Campuzano, a 2005 graduate and one of her former players, as her replacement. Campuzano has been the JV coach for the last three seasons and played college softball, including at the Division I level at St. Francis College, before it disbanded the program. Lewinger is excited about the energy and experience she will bring.
“She tries to instill that confidence she had as a player, pushing the girls to a level of expectation and confidence,” Lewinger said.
Campuzano said she had been hoping this opportunity would come her way if and when Peizer eventually chose to leave. The 25-year-old is looking forward to the challenge. She takes over a TMLA team that went 2-10 in league play last year and finished last in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens. She and junior varsity Coach Megan White have talked about trying to build an even closer bond between the two teams and provide the girls a fun and energetic atmosphere.
“We want them to get a real sense of family and a real sense of a team,” Campuzano said.
The fact that she has been around the program will ease the transition in her mind. She coached the seniors on next year’s team when they were on the JV. They know what to expect from her and what is expected of them.
“They know what practices are going to be like,” Campuzano said. “They now there will be a lot of running. It makes it a lot easier.”