NEOSHO, Mo. — Catie and Jim Cummins, a daughter-father duo leading the Neosho High School softball program, have spent a lifetime together on the dirt.
Catie played for her father, who coached a softball travel team while she was growing up. It’s different now. Catie is the head coach for the Neosho High School softball program while her father serves as her assistant coach.
She became the head coach for the team in 2017, five years after graduating from Neosho High School.
After working hard on the field and in the classroom as a Neosho student, Catie signed with Pittsburg State University, where she had a successful collegiate softball career. The saying, “all roads lead home” was true for her, coming back to Neosho to share her passion for the game, coaching the program for which she once played.
This past 2022 season, Cummins reached her 100th win milestone as the head coach in the last game of the regular season. The first one to congratulate her and tell her that it was her 100th win was by her side — her father and assistant coach.
Her father, Dr. Jim Cummins, has served as the Neosho School District Superintendent since July 2018. Prior to this he was the vice president of finance at Crowder College, then Seneca School District Superintendent.
Catie has been a leader for the softball program since she was hired on from assistant to head coach after the first season, and has had no losing season yet since stepping into the head coaching role.
This bond between daughter and father shows at the end of each season by the numbers.
How did it all come about though?
The year before Catie was hired as the head coach, she was an assistant coach, and the program was struggling. It was going to take a transition to get the program back on track, and who better to get it done than the hometown girl who worked hard as a player, being a part of successful high school and collegiate teams?
In her first season as head coach the team went 14-14. Many people would say that is a good record for a first-year head coach turning around a program. Catie said that was not good enough for her, though, as she said: “I’m so thankful that Cori Reid had enough confidence in me to start leading the program at a young age, but I never really had a coaching mentor while I was an assistant because I didn’t want to coach a team doing the wrong things.”
Reid was the athletic director at Neosho at the time.
After talking with the man who once coached her the right way, things fell into place. Catie remembers, “After having a conversation with my dad about it, I think he had some internal conversation about it as well, because a couple days later (he was) asking if she was serious about it because he was. I told him this is what I needed to become a better coach.”
Jim expressed his excitement when talking about the opportunity he took to be an assistant on his daughter’s coaching staff, saying, “I was very grateful about getting the approval to coach alongside Catie. I also enjoy getting to spend time coaching the kids, bringing back the joy I remember having when I was a coach for the travel teams Catie played for growing up.”
With that, Neosho still hasn’t had a losing season, most recently ending last year with a final regular season record of 24-6.