Chipley High School is home to one of the most well-respected softball programs in Florida.
In the last five years, Chipley has advanced to the regional finals three times while also reaching the state Final Four twice.
Last season, Chipley went 10-0 in their district while winning the district tournament and making it to the Final Four.
Head coach Sachem Dickson is quick to explain that at Chipley you earn your keep.
The coach’s two major philosophies are “Crawl before you walk” and “Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself.”
The first philosophy preaches patience.
“Rome wasn't built overnight, it had to start somewhere. So in building a great athletic foundation with my kids, we've got to lay the cornerstone first. Once that has been laid, now we have something to build on,” Dickson said. “A lot of kids these days are so quick to quit when things don't go their way the first time, second time or at all. I remind them that you've got to crawl before you walk. No one remembers learning how to crawl, but yet now they find themselves running.”
The second philosophy touts the merits of giving it your all.
“Don't take plays off. Don't take reps off. Don't end your BP sessions or tee work on a bad or mediocre hit. The hard work that you put in kow, will pay off in the long run,” Dickson said. “That's the treat. Reaping the benefits of the work that you have sown. If it was easy everyone would do it.”
These philosophies are particularly helpful in establishing trust between pitchers and catchers.
Dickson has a unique view from both sides as he played both pitcher and catcher at Graceville (FL) High School.
“With the the catcher, it’s just about making sure she understands that the pitcher may have a bad pitch every now and again, but because she's the only one wearing gear out here, she has no reason to let a ball by her,” Dickson said. “As far as the pitcher goes, trust your catcher. Trust that she has your back and will do everything she can to keep everything in front of her, frame every pitch that needs it, and squeeze all pitches possible.”
Dickson takes great pride in the fact that her players have bought into her system.
“It means a heck of a lot. They get told this and get told that from everybody under the sun, and of course, everybody's way is correct, but to see them work their tail off to do it the right way, with no shortcuts, I couldn't be prouder. Feel like a proud papa.”
Dickson has a message for anyone athlete out there striving to reach their dreams.
“Very few people experience success over night. Most people have to work hard to hone their craft,” Dickson said. “To any athlete, if you want to play for a long time at different levels, you've got to have a little bit of talent, more heart, a lot of drive and most importantly, no ceiling.”
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