Cal softball welcomes new assistant coach to pitching staff

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Lianne Frick/File

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Some athletes were born to play their positions, but Cal softball’s newest assistant coach, Anjelica Selden, was anything but a natural pitcher.

“I was terrible, horrible at first,” Selden said. “On my first recreational team, I was playing shortstop, and I just remember watching the pitcher and wanting to be doing what she was doing. I wanted to be in the circle so badly.”

It’s Selden’s passion for excellence, no matter how it starts, that made her a three-time All-American at UCLA and stuck with her as she transitioned into coaching. What makes Selden a fantastic coach isn’t the number of titles her players win or the ERA her players record — though her players do achieve great feats — but something more.

“Any athlete can tell you you aren’t going to feel 100 percent physically, emotionally and mentally, and if I can get those girls to feel great in those moments where they are uncomfortable, then I’ll know I have done my job,” Selden said.

Selden’s first students of the game were kids who came to her for pitching lessons right after she graduated from UCLA in 2009. Creating her voice wasn’t something that came easy to Selden, much like her pitching.

“It is a bit of a struggle creating your own style as you’re teaching, because I’ve had all of these influences on me throughout my career as an athlete,” Selden said.

Although Selden didn’t make the full transition to coaching right after college, as she moved overseas to play in Italy, Selden had already found her love for teaching.

After finally leaving her career as an elite athlete behind in Italy, Selden morphed the perspectives and teaching styles of those who had influenced her into her own. Acknowledging both what she appreciated about her previous softball coaches and also their faults allowed Selden to find her best possible voice as a coach.

“One of the things I loved about going from an athlete to a coach is being able to cater to each individual kid according to who they are, where they come from and what their needs are,” Selden said.

Although Selden has been out of the collegiate softball world for a while, she has familiar faces to welcome her back into it. She previously coached Cal’s rising senior Lindsay Rood at Monte Vista High School, and rising redshirt senior Zoe Conley was one of Selden’s pitching students while in high school.

Softball has been a constant in Selden’s life ever since the age of 6, bringing her through a plethora of experiences and adventures — from playing collegiate softball at a then-Pac-10 school to submerging herself in a whole other culture as an international player to shaping the lives of other players.

“With all these experiences, having gone to Italy and played in Italy and coached at all different levels, I’m really eager to share all of that with them, because what I have to give to these girls is more than softball, more than the game,” Selden said. “It’s more than pitching; it’s more than mechanics. I’m excited about getting these girls to understand themselves and trust themselves and be able to control themselves in moments where they’re hitting some kind of adversity.”

Surina Khurana covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected].