Molly Gosnell: A Thunderbird Journey

Title: Molly Gosnell: A Thunderbird Journey
Date: May 1, 2013
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: This was a feature I wrote about UBC women’s softball player Molly Gosnell and her father Dave, who is both a super-fan and a large financial supporter of the team.

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds may not have a home ballpark to call their own, but Molly Gosnell (Sunnyvale, CA) has a familiar face everywhere the team plays.

That’s because Molly’s father, Dave Gosnell, travels to many of the away game locations from his home in California. In fact, Dave is a key reason Molly ended up with head coach Phil Thom‘s upstart softball program four years ago. He’s been a key supporter of the fledgling team, lending a hand off the field as daughter Molly helps the team on the field.

A passionate baseball fan and long-time former coach, Dave has deep roots in the game. That means Molly Gosnell has deep roots in the game, too. It’s that level of commitment, both to athletics and academics, which brought the Gosnells to UBC in the first place. A serendipitous high school tournament in Las Vegas saw the Gosnells run into the Surrey Storm, with whom Thom had ties. A courting process was hardly needed.

“It’s been great,” said Molly, who has one home run and one triple to go along with six doubles on the year. “I can’t describe how fortunate I’ve been to have his support throughout my entire softball career, as a coach and as a fan. He has helped me get to where I am today and it means a lot to me to see him at our games.”

Now, with Molly starring on the field and Dave left to watch from the bleachers, he’s had to get comfortable in a new role. Formerly Molly’s head coach, the senior Gosnell has made sure to travel as a fan rather than a secondary coach, letting Thom do the coaching.

“My role is to support the team as a fan,” said Dave. “With my experience as a head coach, I know that having parent coaches in the stands is not an ideal situation.”

Thom certainly appreciates Gosnell’s attitude and effort, which has included helping the team out with fundraising efforts, advanced practice equipment and new batting helmets over the years. Specialty bats and batting tees gave way to Canucks tickets for raffles and even to organizing a team bonding trip to Alcatraz when the team visited San Francisco. Dave has also travelled to Vancouver, Redding, Calif., Seattle, Caldwell, Idaho, and Tucson, Ariz.

The team is grateful for his contributions as well, an unsolicited token towards a softball program still getting it’s footing in the NAIA.

“The UBC softball players work as hard as any players of U.S. college teams so I’ve tried to help build the program in any way I can,” said Dave Gosnell.

Of course, the equipment and fun trips aren’t the extent of his support. At most away games, he can be spotted in the crowd cheering. But putting the proverbial whistle and clipboard aside has been both good and bad. While it allows more time for summer vacations, Dave mentioned, there are things he misses.

“Softball is a game of failure and it was always gratifying to see players build their confidence and be able to bounce back from a game that will always try to knock that confidence down,” Dave Gosnell.

That’s a message that the UBC program took to heart, having come up short of their goals in the 2012 season. This year, the team met their goal of Regionals thanks to a 23-19 record. It’s the most successful season in program history, a testament to the work of Thom, veteran players like Molly and the support of great fans and parents like Dave.

His support hasn’t hurt Molly by any means, either.

“The support from my dad has definitely made my time at UBC easier,” said Molly.

“He’s done everything that I could have asked for, from helping me get equipment to always being available to help me with training when I’m at home. He has provided me with all of the resources to be successful in both school and softball, and it makes me realize how lucky I am to have this strong support from him.”

The fourth-year third baseman is hitting .238 this season, acting as one of the ironmen on the team by appearing in all 42 games. Gosnell will look to bring her sharp glove and impressive range at the hot corner to the Association of Independent Institutions Championship, which begins today in Victoria, Texas.

Dave is, of course, along for the trip.

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