VYPE: How many years have you been coaching, and how many years at Southmoore?
Jason Lingo: My brother and I have both coached at Southmoore since they opened the doors in 2008.
VYPE: Do you teach? If so, what subject(s)?
JL: I am the Physical Education Department head and assistant athletic director at Southmoore along with Head Fastpitch and Asst. Slowpitch.
VYPE: Who or what inspired you to become a coach?
JL: Both of my parents were athletes in school and both retired from education as adults. My father was a coach in his early career and I can still remember going with him as a principal to get ready for games at home and all of the trips to away games all across the state of Oklahoma. For years we went to Luther Lion and Vinita Hornet games as a family. We’d take an annual trip to “The Big House” for 3 days every spring for state basketball- regardless of who was playing. All of our family vacations revolved around sports. Sports and the outdoors are where our family spent its entire time together. So I’m proud to say that without question, the biggest reason that I’m a coach is because of my parents. They have been the greatest role models that James and I could have ever asked for.
VYPE: What have your players taught you?
JL: I think over the years, I’ve been the lucky one to learn more from the girls than they’ve ever learned from me. Each season and group are different, but they help me to be more patient, more trusting, more calm and more understanding. They help me to look at things in a different way than my 47 year old male eyes and mind may normally see things. And they force me to laugh more, and I think that’s something that we all probably need more of.
VYPE: They say after you win your first championship, each one means more. This was your fifth fast-pitch state championship and eighth including slow-pitch. How did this one feel compared to others?
JL: This one is different. Since 2015 — we’ve usually been the hunter. The big dog that everyone else is looking at. But we were in the middle of the pack for most of this season. We weren’t playing well enough early on to be considered a threat. But that didn’t stop this group. These seniors and juniors pushed the group to work. And the sophomores and freshmen responded and we came together a lot as a team as the season rolled along.
VYPE: What was running through your mind as you saw that winning run cross the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning against Edmond Memorial?
JL: As Kate Seaton stepped on home plate, a flood of emotions came in a wave over me. The first few seconds are absolute exhilaration and then I had to catch my breath and I just knelt there and watched the girls celebrate. I find myself doing that more when we win big games. I’ve been doing this awhile and it’s fun to see the girls who’ve never experienced this go through those emotions. And let’s be honest, is there anything more beautiful than a dogpile?!
VYPE: I’d say it’s fair to call Southmoore softball a dynasty. What does it take to build a dynasty?
JL: Any coach will tell you that the first thing that is needed to create something special is belief. You have to believe that it’s possible first. Our girls have bought into the expectations. Then it’s work. And more work. And then you take a break and work some more. There’s no magic potion. It’s hours on the practice field, hours in the cages at night and on the weekends. It takes each individual doing their part both together as a team and alone as individuals to get better. And I can promise you one thing, that will always be the expectation at Southmoore Softball. Our history is rich and our future is bright. And it’s going to be fun helping this program continue to develop the next group of great players and watch those players go on to do big things.
VYPE: There’s Southmoore almuni playing at the highest levels of softball. What does it mean to see the success of your former players, like Sydney Sherrill?
JL: The players are the reason Southmoore Softball is what it is. As a program- we’ve truly been blessed to have some of the best players in the state walk through our halls the last 16 years. And it’s awesome to sit back and remember 12-13 year-old them walking through the door the first time as seventh graders. Then to see them advance through their high school careers and off to college. Then we get to cheer for them as they go through college and some even get to play professional softball. Now we have multiple alumni coaching at different levels of the sport as well.