By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The “Getting to Know” series is designed to help the community learn more about the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Today, we get to know Waterloo High School softball coach Brenda Flarida, who recently began her 24th season leading the Vikings’ program.
Q: High school?
A: Waterloo High School. Class of 1989. Played softball, basketball and volleyball.
A: Kent State University. Class of 1993. Degree in Elementary Education.
Q: Current occupation?
A: Fifth grade math at Waterloo Elementary School.
Q: What inspired you to become a coach?
A: I just knew I wanted to be a coach from my playing days. It is a true passion of mine.
Q: What makes being a coach at Waterloo special to you?
A: Being a coach at Waterloo is truly special to me for many reasons. One reason is this being my alma mater. I have always taken much pride in being a lifelong Viking. I love this school and community and have had so many special players over the years and when those players come back to a game or come to see me, that is what makes coaching at Waterloo so special.”
Q: Who has been your biggest coaching influence?
A: My biggest influence as a coach and mentor would be John Herchek. Obviously, I never played for him, but being around him my whole career as a player and coach, he had the most influence on me as a coach. From his love for the game, the way he gets the most out of his athletes and his relationship he builds with his players. That is what I have taken from Coach Herchek.
Q: Favorite coach from your playing days?
A: The other influential coach is coach Lynn Jones, who was my high-school coach. She cared about her players and took me under her wing as a young coach and helped me as I was starting my career. To this day, she sends me a card and texts me at the beginning of each season to wish me luck!
Q: Funny story from your playing days that people wouldn’t believe?
A: We would be at a hitting station and coach Jones had a stash of candy or Girl Scout cookies in her desk. We would sneak into her room to eat cookies. She always had a way of knowing we snuck in there and got into her cookies. I think it was the smell of peanut butter when we came back into the gym.
Q: Funny story from your coaching career that people wouldn’t believe?
A: When I was pregnant with my son Drew, who was due in two days, we were playing in a sectional final and I was waving a runner around third to score, and I slipped and fell. Mind you, I was very pregnant, and I needed help getting back up. Players and parents came to the rescue!
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Usually there is only sports on our TV.
Q: Favorite food or meal?
A: Favorite food is steak and favorite meal is Mexican.
Q: Favorite candy?
A: Reese Cups.
Q: Best Vacation?
A: Any vacation to the beach, of course. It is my favorite place to be.
Q: Favorite quote?
A: I say this to my team every single day: “Three things we can control: Attitude, effort and how we treat our teammates.” That is what I expect from my players everyday.
Q: Describe your coaching philosophy?
A: My coaching philosophy goes back to my quote about attitude and effort and those are the players I want on my team. I feel very strongly in building relationships with my athletes. All my players, past and present, are and always will be “my girls!”
Q: Favorite restaurant?
A: Uncle Tito’s.
Q: Favorite teacher from high school?
A: Carol Hunt.
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: Any Vikings team, Kent State Golden Flashes, Guardians and Cincinnati Bengals.
Q: Coaching resume?
A: One year varsity softball at Garfield High School; 24 years varsity softball at Waterloo High School (310-205 career record). Twenty five years of coaching seems like so long, but I truly feel like it has only been a few years. I still have so much passion for this game and being a positive influence in kids’ lives. It is what I truly love about coaching and teaching.