Durant High School employee Jim Delaney has always wanted to be a head coach, and now he has a chance to fulfill his dreams after being hired as the Seffner Christian softball coach in August last year. Former Crusaders coach Mike Cates stepped down and helped bring Delaney in to replace him.
He has coached various sports for 13 years and was most recently an assistant baseball coach at Durant, where he said he watched and learned how a stellar high school program is run under coach Butch Valdes. He started the GameTime Softball travel organization in the summer of 2020 for local high school players to participate in summer and fall tournaments.
“When I found out, I was super excited. There’s really no words to describe it,” Delaney said about being offered the job. “It’s a great opportunity, and I’m ready.”
Delaney had to talk things over with his daughter, Paige Delaney, who is a senior softball player at Durant, to make sure she was okay with him coaching at another school. It’ll be the first season that he hasn’t coached her.
“I have played for my dad my entire softball career, but I would have to say what I enjoyed the most was always feeling comfortable and confident on the field knowing I had one of my biggest supporters always right there with me,” she said.
The Crusaders head man looks to continue the recent success of the program the last few seasons. The team was off to a record start in 2020 before the season was canceled, went to the regional finals and won districts in 2021, and last season made it to regionals again. Delaney has established his own culture and built a rapport with his players during the offseason. He added a great coaching staff, which includes two 2014 softball state champions in former Bloomingdale Lady Bulls Darby (Bernaldo) Moore and Jenna Beswick.
“I wanted to help coach Delaney because I align with his vision to continue to grow Seffner Christian softball,” said Moore. “He brings a new mentality to the program that continues to build off the previous coaching staff. Coach Delaney is focused, knowledgeable and goal-oriented. This will only continue to better Seffner Christian softball and all the girls that come through this program.”
Delaney is hopeful for a great season. His team lost about eight seniors but returns with three of its top pitchers. He and his coaching staff want to instill growth, development, accountability and culture in the players. He will also hold himself and his coaching staff to those exact standards.
“We want everybody to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and make sure that everybody on our roster on varsity and JV get better and they have fun competing,” said Delaney. “Our motto is ‘Have fun competing.’”
His new players are excited to play and learn from him every day.
“The most important thing that he has taught me is that it’s OK to make mistakes, it’s what you do after; that is how you get better,” said senior outfielder and pitcher Carlee Medlin. “I’m looking forward to becoming the best player that I can be and making great memories.”
Former Seffner Christian softball player and current Crusaders head junior varsity coach Addison Brady thinks that Delaney is a great fit for the program moving forward.
“Coach Delaney truly cares for the team and gives each player his full effort to help them become the best people they can be,” she said. “His ability to promote fun and learning while leading the girls will benefit the team. Growing the program will come with obstacles, but he has the motivation, expertise and optimism to cultivate a successful season for SCA softball.”