In quiet moments, Makayla Coffield can see the dream unfold. She can envision the “Team USA” name emblazoned on her jersey and hear the crowd roar as she walks onto the softball diamond at the Olympics.
With softball returning to the Olympic stage in 2020, the rising eighth grader at Whitewater Middle School knows her dream is possible. On June 29, she moved closer to making it a reality.
Coffield was a part of Team Georgia in the USA 12-Under All-American Games. The tournament was held at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. She was one of 14 players that represented Georgia.
In the tournament, Coffield dominated the competition. She led the team in batting average (.545), hits (6), and runs scored (5). She also helped Team Georgia reach a top-8 finish in the event.
“I felt honored to be selected to represent Georgia in the tournament, because there were many incredibly talented girls that tried out for the team,” Coffield said. “Some of my favorite parts about this experience were playing in the Hall of Fame Stadium and meeting other girls from across the country. When we played in the stadium, I stood on the same field or in the dugout that players I look up to did.”
It was a long road for Coffield to make Team Georgia. The work started almost 10 years ago as she worked her way up through various tournaments to enhance her game. From personal workouts to hitting lessons, she made it a point to get better.
“At our team practices, our coaches Jessica Sweat, Amanda Paz, and Chris Backes taught us everything to expect and how to work together as a team,” Coffield said. “To prepare mentally, I had to tell myself that I made the team for a reason, and I worked hard for this opportunity.”
It wasn’t easy to be selected. Coffield had to tryout multiple times to make the squad. Last season, she made it as an alternate and watched from the sidelines. This time, she didn’t want to be idle again.
In two tryouts, Coffield displayed her skill set as a left-handed pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman. She impressed with a powerful hitting stroke and solid glove work. After tryouts, she was notified that she made the squad to the delight of her family and friends.
“We are so happy that she made the team this year,” Amanda Coffield said. “She tried out last year and made it as an alternate. She was upset but continued to work hard, and I think making it this year gave her that satisfaction that all her hard work is paying off.”
This season, Makayla plans to try out for the junior varsity team at Whitewater High School. Eighth graders can practice with the high school team and be a part of the team atmosphere. She believes that she will be ready to play as the experience with Team Georgia has prepared her well.
“I learned that there are very talented girls across the United States,” Coffield said. “If I want to play at a top level, I have to put in work daily.”
Amanda Coffield agrees. She will be there rooting and helping Makayla the entire way.
“I love watching her play,” Amanda said. “She works hard every day and being able to compete out in OKC was amazing. Seeing how happy it made her makes me feel like everything is worth it.”