Nine years ago, Becky Lambert was working in a north shore pharmacy that specialized in making chemotherapy medications.
Like most people, she worked regular business hours and felt that she didn’t have enough time to devote to her then 2-year old son Andrew. She also was coaching the High Voltage travel softball team on the side, which further diminished her available family time.
So, after much consideration, she decided to quit her job at the pharmacy and to spend more time with her husband Scott and with Andrew.
But a mere two weeks after she gave notice at the pharmacy, Lambert got a call that changed her life.
“It was (former Hannan High School Principal) John Serio, and he asked me if I wanted to be the softball coach at Hannan. Boom. All of a sudden, everything came together. I was able to coach at Hannan (only two miles from her home,) and I was able to see my son more often. It just worked out.”
Did it ever. Lambert, a nonfaculty coach, is the only head softball coach Hannan has had since the school relocated to the Covington-Goodbee area following Hurricane Katrina. Her longevity has been highlighted by Class 1A state championships (2011 and 2012,) and the Hawks have made it to the state tournament in Sulphur six of her nine years at the helm.
Though Hannan lost in the quarterfinals last week to eventual Class 2A champion Menard, Lambert sees bright spots for not only the school’s softball program, but also for herself. After all, she’s doing what she loves, while having more time to spend with the people she loves.
And that’s what Lambert is focused on with Mother’s Day coming up Sunday.
Lambert said though she is part of a small family at home, she’s part of a much larger family when you add in her Hannan players.
“Coaching at Hannan is like being a mom of a really big family,” Lambert said. “You manage personalities, handle squabbles at times. That’s what a family is like. And I think that what makes our team click is that everyone is on the same page. We have the same goal, and that’s to win a championship.”
Juggling softball and family is nothing new to Lambert. When she was growing up in Mandeville, her mother coached at Fourth Ward Recreation and her father was an administrator there. At 16, when Lambert wanted to coach her first softball team, her mother had to serve as head coach because Becky was too young to do so.
After playing softball and basketball at Mandeville High, Lambert played on the diamond at Southeastern Louisiana University. She helped found the High Voltage group to stay connected to the sport, and she continued to coach after marrying Scott and giving birth to Andrew.
Now, softball is a family affair for the entire family. Becky continues as a nonfaculty coach at Hannan, and when she’s not there, she’s helping Scott run their private instruction business at their house near Goodbee. Andrew, now 11, is nearly as involved with the team as his mother — attending every game, making friends with the Hannan players and soaking up a wealth of knowledge from mom and dad.
“(Andrew) wants to be everywhere the team goes,” Becky Lambert said. “He wants to be at practice, at games. He’s very involved, and that makes it easy for me, because he’s always with me.”
Lambert relishes her current situation. The Hannan team that lost in the quarterfinals in Sulphur was composed of almost all freshmen and sophomores. Lambert said the loss to Menard was a learning experience, and that next year’s team should be stronger from the experience.
Like she does as a mom at home, she hopes for more for her “family” at school. She said it’s the cohesion between the members of each that makes her job easier than it might be for others in similar circumstances.
“Running a team is so much like running a family,” she said. “You go through the same things families do. … It’s not just Xs and Os. It’s a whole lot more than that, a whole lot more. But I love it.”