By Naomi Schapiro
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Amy Suiter told her team she was stepping down as head softball coach, sophomore softball player Anna Kasner said.
Suiter, who coached Western for eight seasons, said on May 3 that she would be stepping down as coach to spend time with her family.
She has three kids, including a baby born last August. While Suiter said she could not feel any more fortunate to work with the softball program at Western, she feels this is the best time to move on.
“I really feel like our program, right now, could not be in a better place,” Suiter said. “The student athletes currently on the team and the recruits that are coming in are fantastic people and athletes. I knew that when I did leave, this is where I wanted it to be.”
Suiter played softball at the University of Washington for four years before getting a job at Texas Tech University as the assistant softball coach. While at Texas Tech, Suiter pursued a doctorate in sports psychology. She fell in love with it, she said.
After getting pregnant with their first child, she and her husband moved back to Skagit Valley, where they are both from. The softball head coaching job at Western had just opened up, so everything fit into place, she said.
For Kasner, who just finished her second season at Western, Suiter was like a parent figure, she said.
“I look up to her a lot,” Kasner said. “She is always asking me questions, not just about softball but about life. ‘How did your job interview go? What is going on with your family?’ Whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was always there.”
Kasner said during winter quarter she and a few teammates had a lot going on in their personal lives. They went to meet with Suiter before practice. When Suiter heard how overwhelmed they were, Kasner said, she canceled practice to take them on a hike.
Kasner said Suiter was always telling them to put their health and happiness first. This is why Kasner believes that while it is sad for the players to watch their coach go, she knows this is the best decision for Suiter.
“I think it is important for her to spend time with her family,” Kasner said. “She would be more happy spending time with her kids. It is for the best.”
Junior pitcher Shearyna Labasan said Suiter was special because of her ability to make lasting relationships with the players.
Labasan is from Hawaii and said being far away from home has been difficult, but Suiter has helped her feel comfortable in Bellingham.
“There was some things going on that I probably wouldn’t have gotten through if [Suiter] hadn’t cared about me as a person,” Labasan said. “Her helping me get through those tough times, especially being far away from my family, has really helped me.”
The process for finding a new coach has begun, Suiter said. She said the applications will be open for a couple more weeks before the interviews will start.
Labasan is hoping for a coach that has similar qualities to Suiter, and she believes they will find a good replacement.
“Anyone who really cares for the sport and their players, that is what I am looking for [in a coach].” Labasan said. “Next year I am looking forward to using all the lessons we have learned this year, and just going out on the field and having a good senior season.”