Carol Savino Retiring
By Christopher Tremblay
After patrolling the sidelines on the softball field for 61 years, Norwood High School Coach Carol Savino is finally hanging up her cleats. Well, not fully. The Mustang Coach plans on hanging around on more year while the new coach gets acclimated, and then after that she’s looking to enjoy softball from a fan’s perspective.
“I’m looking forward to go watch my former players play on the collegiate level,” Savino said. “I’ve never been able to do this as not only did our season coincide with the college season, but Norwood’s season was also always longer due to our participation in the tournament. I’ve been a six-day a week coach with no time to go see my girls play.”
Savino, who just turned 79 years young, was a three-sport athlete (field hockey, basketball, and softball) at Stoughton High School. Although she liked basketball, she couldn’t stand being indoors and wanted to be out in the elements as much as she could – softball thus became her top sport. Although she wasn’t the greatest of athletes, she was small and quick, and those attributes were enough to allow her to play high school sports.
Having put in six decades of coaching, it wasn’t something that the then Stoughton resident was looking to do with her life. In fact, she really didn’t have any inclination to be a coach until her uncle came to her at the age of 18 fresh out of high school and told her she was going to coach his team.
“I didn’t know anything about coaching, but my uncle told me that I knew the rules, so I’d be able to coach,” Savino said. “I originally planned on giving him two years. However, after watching me coach, my grandmother told me that I was going to be doing this until I had grey hair and a cane. She was pretty right on. I don’t have the cane, but I do have the grey hair; she had better insight than I did.”
Growing up in the 60’s, there was no softball for girls, and according to Savino, if you wanted to play you had to join Little League and play baseball with the boys. Savino would eventually go on to coach youth softball, basketball, and softball at Bridgewater State, basketball in Raynham, and then her last 28 years were on the high school level coaching softball at Duxbury for 14 years and then another 14 with Norwood. She was rather successful and involved with a lot of great people at Duxbury; she never envisioned leaving the school.
“I was told that I was the best coach that they ever had,” Savino said. “I enjoyed my time there watching the young ladies grow with the game and then move onto the college level.”
During the late 80’s, Savino created Mass Drifters Softball for girls 16-18 years of age in order to get them prepared to play the game on the next level. The program was established to train and develop female athletes who are committed to the game, just as Savino has been.
Growing up, Savino didn’t have the opportunity to move forward with softball if she had wanted to, so creating the Drifters was a way that she could give back; never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that the Drifters would become so big.
Although involved with the Drifters and still coaching Duxbury, Savino was very much content. That is until a few of her girls from the Drifters, who were also Norwood residents, told her of the opening for a softball coach at Norwood High School. Savino brushed it off, but the girls were persistent and eventually she gave in and applied for the vacancy. Although the Drifter programs had won a lot of trophies, Savino never thought that it would influence her application with Norwood. She still considered herself to be on the low end of the totem pole.
“I applied and went in for the interview with then Athletic Director Brian McDonough (who Savino recalls was a fast talker),” Savino said. “There were six applicants for the job, so there was no way that I was getting it. Following the interview, I asked Brian what his timeline was to hire someone, and he told me at least a couple of weeks. I left there feeling that I did my part and that was it.”
The very next morning she received a call from McDonough, one she was definitely not expecting, who offered her the job, and she said yes. She recalled that phone call pretty much as a blur and with the Norwood AD talking so fast, when she hung up the phone, she immediately thought to herself, what did I just agree to?
Little did she know her commitment of 15 years would bring the Mustangs softball program into the forefront of Massachusetts softball.
The Norwood skipper was not one who was big on statistics and tracking wins and losses, instead all that she was looking to do was prepare the girls so that they could move to play softball on the collegiate level.
“Coming into coaching I never had any goals, no real clue what to expect.” Savino said. “I just wanted to run a program to the best of my ability while helping the girls. If you told me that I’d be doing this for many years with multiple teams, I’d tell you no thank you. I’ve been extremely lucky to have coached some of the best athletes in the area. I’m an old-school individual looking for the kids to give everything they have while working hard on the field and earning it; I’m not into this new way of thinking where things are just handed out.”
At this stage, some 30 years in the making, the Mass Drifters Softball program continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Girls are looking to join the program and Savino’s old players are coming back to give their coach a hand with the program.
Finding herself to actually be on the sidelines of the Norwood softball team for one more season, Savino hopes that she can help the new coach as much as she can before she exits the high school game for the final time.
“I didn’t have anyone around me to really teach me the game; I had to continue to learn and study the game as it was changing,” Savino said. “To be a good coach, you need to know your players; know who to push and who to take along slowly. Again, I was lucky enough to have kids who were willing to buy into my program and get better.”