By Rick Assad
There’s something about the game of softball that has kept Katie Taix’s interest kindled for nearly two decades.
The love of the game began innocently enough when she asked her parents (father Vince and mother Karen) months prior to her seventh birthday, if she could take pitching lessons.
Initially they said no but finally relented and on her seventh birthday when she took her first lesson.
Two years later she would find her way to Doug Nicol, the longtime Burroughs High softball coach.
“When I was nine years old, my dad and I were looking for a local team. We found the Lady Legends, and Doug was a coach on the team then,” Taix recalled. “I joined the team and Doug ended up coaching me through high school. I’ve known him for years and he is still my dad’s close friend.”
Taix went on: “Doug has been an incredible mentor to me and a great friend. He has taken me under his wing since I was little,” she said. “He was one of the first coaches to really believe in me and it meant everything to me when I was a kid.”
Taix, who graduated from Alverno Heights Academy, now known as Alverno High in Sierra Madre where she was a decorated pitcher/third baseman and then played two years at College of the Canyons where she also pitched, began her coaching career in 2019 as an assistant on the junior varsity at Crescenta Valley High where her uncle Marty Taix is the head coach, and her sister Kristy Taix was a senior for the Falcons.
“After leaving Crescenta Valley High, I took an assistant coach position at Occidental College. Doug called me up about a month later and asked me if I had any days off from coaching at the college,” she said. “At that moment, I knew exactly where he was going with his conversation. He asked me if I was interested in helping with his pitchers on my days off and I said absolutely. A few moments later, he tweeted that I got hired at Burroughs as his new assistant coach.”
Nicol knows that much of Taix’s life has been about softball.
“Katie loves softball and that love contributes to her being a valuable coach in our program,” he said of Taix, who is also the pitching coach. “Because she loves the game so much, she dedicates herself to learning the game and what it takes to help players be successful. She is a good listener and is always willing to learn new things and be a team player, and that is a great trait to have as a young coach.”
Nicol continued: “I have a great staff that works really hard, and Katie is a big part of that because that love for the game comes out and exhibits itself all the time,” he pointed out.
Taix finished her second season on the Bears’ staff and said despite years of playing the game, there are things she’s still learning.
“Even playing softball for 15 years and coaching for five years, I am still learning so much about the game,” she said. “I have been a part of this sport for so long, yet I still learn new things all the time. Doug teaches me new things about the sport all the time. I have also learned how important it is to have a good team culture. One of the main reasons why we were co-champions in the [Pacific] League this year was because of the culture we had with Burroughs softball.”
Playing and coaching are different, even though the game is the same.
“For me, it’s tougher being a coach than a player. As a player, I knew my role for my team – that was pitching and being a team leader,” said Taix, who was an All-CIF Southern Section pick in 2016, and was tabbed Pasadena All-Area in 2015 and 2016, finishing with more than 430 strikeouts and a 2.30 earned-run average while batting over .400 every season at the prep level. “I was comfortable being in the circle, especially doing it for 16 years. Being a coach, I have learned that I have multiple roles for the team.”
Taix, an All-Western State Conference second team selection in 2017 as a sophomore before injuring her knee that ended her playing career, went into some detail about her duties on Nicol’s staff.
“One of the roles that I have is to create the right conditions for learning to happen and to find ways of motivating the athletes,” she said. “At Burroughs, most of our athletes are highly motivated and therefore the task is to maintain that motivation and to get their excitement and enthusiasm.”
Taix’s presence on the team has been a boon for the players.
“Before the game, I would talk to the pitchers and catchers and give them a few tips to the tougher batters on the opposing team, and we would talk about a game plan for those batters,” she noted. “Other than that, I let them do their thing. Our girls did a fantastic job of getting in the zone before the game. They pumped each other up and took care of business.”
This most recent campaign that saw the Bears have a 24-5 overall record and reach the CIF Division IV semifinals has been rewarding for Taix.
“We had girls really step up this year and fit in perfectly with our team culture that Doug has built. I knew by the end of fall that we had a special group going into the season this year,” she said. “This team never fails to inspire and live up to high expectations. These girls showed that they have grit. They showed that they were willing to compete for each other. They were growing as individuals on and off the field. I am proud of this squad that went all the way to the semifinals. We accomplished so much more than just going to the semifinals, but the semifinals was one of the highlights of the season.”
Having been involved with the game since childhood has helped Taix relate to the players.
“Being a former player has helped me coach in so many ways,” she pointed out. “I understand what it was like to be in Stevie Dabbadie’s position this year in the circle. I can relate to that. I was in high school not too long ago, so I am able to relate to the girls.”
Taix has been assisted by so many people in her rise to where she is today.
“Doug, Sheila Oasay (assistant at Burroughs) and John Wissmath (head coach at College of the Canyons) have made the biggest impact on my career,” she stated. “Doug and John were the best two head coaches I had in my softball career. I wouldn’t be the coach or person that I am today without the two of them. Sheila has taken me under her wing, and she pushes me to become a better person every day.”
Being a coach has been something Taix has wanted for a long time.
“If you told me in sixth grade when I was on Doug Nicol’s team that I was going to coach with him at Burroughs years from now, I wouldn’t have believed it,” she said. “I am really glad that I took this path in life.”
Nicol summed up Taix’s value to the team.
“Katie is incredibly caring and has a heart of gold. She really cares about people and will go out of her way to help those she is close to and that she cares for,” he said. “That is what I have always liked about her since I coached her as a 10-year-old kid. She has always been a person, as a player and a coach, that you could count on to be a part of a positive culture and add to that culture by working hard and being a positive influence on those around her. I really appreciate Katie and what she brings to our program, and I am looking forward to watching her grow in her coaching career.”