For Riverview High School varsity softball head coach Paul Ullom, coaching means more than simply coming up with a game plan and helping players with their technique. It provides a unique opportunity to create change and help young players be better prepared for the world beyond softball.
“We try to teach life, not just softball. There are some programs where the focus is on getting a scholarship, but we try to teach life lessons to our players along with softball,” Ullom said.
It is not a duty that Ullom takes lightly, as he says he feels as if coaching is something he was meant to do, nor is it something that he envisions himself stopping in the near future. When asked about his greatest accomplishments throughout his coaching career, he said it wasn’t his wins and losses but that he was able to shift a player’s belief system about what was possible.
It is the moments like that which prove coaching is a personal thing for Coach Ullom, and in the three years that he has been at the helm of Riverview varsity softball, the growth players experience with their softball skills is matched by the character growth they undergo as well. This personal connection to the game is something that keeps Ullom coming back every year.
Ullom’s wife, Dawn, has also come on staff with the team in recent years, and the duo have been able to notch multiple winning seasons in their tenure. While winning is the goal and it is fantastic to win, that is not the barometer of a successful season in his eyes.
“We define success by being able to help kids improve on and off the field and do not really correlate it to any particular season,” Ullom said.
This well-rounded approach to coaching is something that Ullom has developed over time, as he credits Glen Rodriguez, head softball coach at East Bay High School, with giving him an opportunity and aiding him in his coaching development. Ullom further recognizes legendary college basketball coach John Wooden as an inspiration of sorts for the way in which he coaches, with a focus on making the individual the best that they can be. This player-first mentality is evident when former players return to visit the program and mention how their time playing under Ullom has impacted them and their development.