Lanie Roy never looked at joining Mt. Abram’s baseball coaching staff as a cause or making a political or social statement. It never occurred to her, for that matter, that baseball is considered a sport exclusive to men.
“I guess I never thought about it like that,” she said. “I feel very honored. Truthfully, it is a very natural fit for me. I have always lived ‘in a man’s world.’ Growing up with my older brother and three male older cousins, I was always the youngest and the only girl. I have always been a ‘tomboy,’ and love it. I believe this helped me to grow into a strong and independent woman. I also have to give credit to my momma (Paula Kane), who is my biggest supporter and also a strong, independent woman.
“At the University of Maine at Presque Isle, I was a Physical Education major and Coaching minor — at the time, fields also dominated by males. I never knew anything different and was never treated differently. I feel I have always been respected by my classmates, colleagues, students and athletes.”
Roy is now an old farm hand for the Roadrunners, and a respected coach who brought a new perspective to the team.
“This is my fourth year as an assistant coach for MTA,” she said. “This year, Jeff (Pillsbury) gave me the official title of JV coach. Pillsbury, Jamie Phelps, (strength and conditioning coach) Kawika Thompson and myself split both the JV and varsity stipends. We don’t coach for the money. We do it because we love these kids and the game of baseball.”
As far as Pillsbury is concerned, Roy is an integral member of his coaching staff, and she is also responsible for the Roadrunners’ success.
“I don’t think it matters — gender, race or whatever,” he said. “If you can coach and know the game and you like the game — it is about coaching and teaching.
“She is from the area, so she knows the area. She knows the kids. She knows families. She can connect with the kids. I have a lot of kids who really like baseball. They like to compete. She fits right in with all of us. There is probably no one more passionate about sports than she is. I think that rubs off on the kids. We all joke, ‘What day is it? It is game day.’”
“Jeff has given me this role because he believes in me as a coach.” Roy said. “He doesn’t care if I am male or female. He only cares about what’s best for ‘our boys,’ the baseball program and how this team can give back to this great community.”
Roy is a catching-and-hitting coach who is often called upon to make other decisions when it comes to the varsity team.
“What I was looking for is I wanted folks — obviously, first and foremost — (who) are passionate about the sport, which she fits that bill,” Pillsbury said. “She is a competitor, a gamer. She wants to win. She understands player development. She is great with kids — I probably should have mentioned that first.
“They respond well to her and she doesn’t take any of their grief. She can hold her own with them. They don’t push any buttons or try to cross the line. She has great rapport with them. I think they respect her and respond well to her and appreciate what she does to try to help us get better.”
Roy said that coaching young men in a sport she loves has been a positive and rewarding challenge.
“Oftentimes you can tell them how it is. You don’t have to sugarcoat things,” she said. “They have a different kind of sense of humor. We have a lot of good laughs. It’s a brotherhood. They pick each other up.”
Pillsbury often turns to his assistants to help make decisions during the season, which also becomes a game of phone tag between Pillsbury and Roy.
“We are always asking (Roy), ‘Who do you want in this spot in the lineup, and what do you think about this kid here or there?’” Pillsbury said “We rely on her for different things that we want to do. She is a big part of this.”
“Jeff calls me at least twice a day during the baseball season,” Roy said. “(It is) usually after the game and then again first thing in the morning — and usually a few times throughout the day. (He is) always looking for possible lineups, thoughts on players, practices and games.”
PUT ME IN, COACH
There was more to Roy’s decision to coach young men.
“It’s the best game in the world,” Roy said. “(It is) a game of inches and seconds. You can’t run the clock out in baseball. Of course, you can stall a little bit, but eventually you have to give the other team their chance. The game can change in a second. It’s the little things in baseball, just like the little things in life, that can change the game.”
Roy lives and breaths with the Boston Red Sox, and her passion for America’s pastime began as a child.
“I have been around baseball my whole life,” she said. “My uncle, Skip Ladd, coached back in the day in the Farmington area. He had three sons that played. I often spent my summers sitting in the dugout.
“As kids, and living in a very rural area, we often played pick-up games, sandlot-style or serious games of Wiffle ball, pretending we were Frank Thomas or Barry Bonds. Usually it was only five or six of us playing. We always had ghost runners and a chair was often the strike zone.
“Jason Varitek is my all-time favorite player. I was a catcher for 14 years of my life. My knees hurt most days. I have a German shepherd named Varitek (Tek for short). “
The 2003 Mt. Abram graduate and physical education teacher at the high school was a three-sport athlete for the Roadrunners. She excelled in soccer, softball and basketball. Pillsbury was her softball coach at Mt. Abram. She played softball and soccer for the UMPI Owls. Beside her baseball coaching duties, she is the Roadrunners JV girls basketball coach and the Kingfield Middle School girls soccer coach.
“She was a hard-nosed, very good player (on) both sides of the ball — defensively and offensively,” Pillsbury said of his former player. “She was coaching for the middle school boys, so I tricked her into coming to Mt. Abram. She came up and we had sort of a JV coach so she was pretty much my assistant, along with Jamie Phelps.”
CAVALCADE OF TESTIMONIALS
Roy’s confidence and enthusiasm, along with her wide smile, is infectious, and the young men she coaches appreciate her knowledge of the game and her sage advice on a diamond.
“I hope she sticks with the program because we definitely could use her,” senior third baseman and catcher Kenyon Pillsbury said. “She has been awesome for it.
“She used to be a catcher, so she works with me and a couple of other players. She is always looking up stuff and seeing how we can improve. She has coached me four years now. It has been pretty fun having her around.”
Junior third baseman Trevor Phelps said Roy’s way of boosting a player’s confidence — especially after having a bad day at the plate — is a real pick-me-up.
“She calms you down and shows you what you did wrong,” Phelps said. “She gets me back in the game more than anybody can. She gets me back into the zone.”
Senior pitcher and catcher Hunter Warren said Roy is someone he can always count on during the season.
“She has always been there for us whenever we need her,” he said. “She fits right in with us and she knows a lot about the game. She has been doing it for a very long time. She played softball, but it is pretty much the same as baseball. I think she has been a great person for us.”
Mt. Abram athletic director Kristina Stevens said Roy is a quiet person who is a dedicated physical education teacher.
“I have to say that the connections in those classes gives her the advantage of being able to be that coach on the field,” Stevens said. “She gets them fired up. She is a positive energy for that team, for sure.”
Roy’s popularity as a teacher and coach comes from her ability to listen and reach out to her students and athletes. She was recently named Teacher of the Month, which is voted on by the student body.
“When they vote for the person, they have to put a comment in,” Stevens said. “So comments are like, ‘Cares deeply, I can go to her for anything, listens to anything I have to say.’” She is just one of those really approachable people we have on our staff, which is so awesome for teenage kids — whether male or female.”
WHAT’S NEXT ON HER PLATE
Each practice is an opportunity for Roy to be grateful and enjoy coaching a sport that provides many rewards on a daily basis.
“Baseball practice is often the best part of my day,” she said. “I love to walk out onto the field and fist bump the players and coaches, talk about last night’s game and what went right and what went wrong and how we are going to adjust. There is so much going on in a game of baseball.”
Roy said she would have to seriously consider the opportunity to become a head coach of a high school varsity baseball team.
“Someday, yeah, I would love it,” she said. “I was the head baseball coach for Kingfield middle school for two years before Pillsbury asked me to join him at the high school. That team came a long way in two years. It was a great experience.
“I thank Kim Ramharter, the former principal at Kingfield Elementary, for giving me that opportunity. I think Jeff Pillsbury might have put in a good word for me. I believe this position was the stepping stone to where I am now.”
Roy was proud when a group of female students cheered her on during a home game.
“I was the first base coach this game,” Roy said. “Every time I ran over to first base, they cheered for me. They said they were my fan club. When I saw one of the girls at school the next day, she said, ‘Ms. Roy, you are such a badass!’ After correcting her language, I said, ‘Thank you’ with pride.
“I always think with coaching and teaching — if I can make a positive impact on at least one student or athlete — it is all worth it.”