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ASU Softball: The return of a Sun Devil legend

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

What does one do after an illustrious college career? The possibilities are endless but really there are only two options: you can continue with your sport in some facet or move on altogether. For some this is an easier decision than others. It was an easy choice for one former Arizona State softball superstar. Dallas Escobedo is back at ASU, but in a different role.

Escobedo one of the best Sun Devil athletes of all time. In her career at ASU, she led her team to three trips to the College World Series, which included one National Championship. The former pitcher is second in school history in wins, second in strikeouts and recorded an unbelievable 2.01 career ERA.

The lists of accolades could go on and on, but that is not what she is concerned about these days. Escobedo has returned to Arizona State as a graduate manager. Essentially, she is an assistant coach for the 2016 season.

Escobedo, 24, had always planned to come back to ASU after her playing days. She knew right away that Tempe was a place she wanted to be. As a native Arizonan, she fit right in as a player and was an instant success, on and off the field. When her final season ended in 2014, it was clear to her that she would remain a Sun Devil.

“I was able to see how family oriented this team was. I love the atmosphere of the fans, the team and I just wanted to be apart of it again,” Escobedo said.

Following her 2015 season with the Pennsylvania Rebellion, co-interim head coach Robert Wagner and then head coach Craig Nicholson expressed to Escobedo they wanted her to make her way back to Tempe and join the staff. Before she could do that, Escobedo had some academic obligations to attend to, which included an internship. However she told them she would hop on board starting in December of 2015.

Now into March, Escobedo is familiarized with the team and has been growing as a coach. It’s not just her skill as a player that has translated over; it’s been her ability to question and to learn.

“Her main role on the team has been improving our coaching staff,” co-interim head coach Letty Olivarez said.

Since Escobedo is just a graduate manager she doesn’t give the players much feedback, but instead gives the coaches feedback. She is able to use her expert knowledge as a former pitcher and also her inexperience as a coach to question everything.

“She’s been growing as a coach and the more she grows she asks questions,” Olivarez explained. “That makes us question what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

It’s that questioning and desire to learn that has helped Escobedo in all aspects of her life, but specifically in her occupational endeavors. The experience so far as a graduate assistant has clarified for her what she wants to do in the future.

“I’ve fallen in love with it as I’ve been here,” Escobedo said. “I consider this my internship to coaching.”

The sky seems to be the limit for her. Escobedo has even managed to expand her cognition in softball, which you wouldn’t think is possible with her impressive resume.

“I’m learning so much not just as a pitcher, but also as an all-around athlete. I’ve learned a lot about the game and not what’s just in the circle,” Escobedo said.

She has expanded her outlook to the whole field and has found that she enjoys working with the position players just as much as the pitchers. Could this be foreshadowing for her future as a head coach? It seems like that is a very real possibility.

“I think she would be a great coach because she’s very understanding and she wants to learn,” Olivarez said. “Even though she knows ball at a higher level, she’s still learning the game.”

It’s not easy moving on from something that you are so successful at, but Dallas Escobedo has managed to make that transition smoother than most, and still do what she loves. In the summer she plays softball professionally in the National Pro Fastpitch League for the Pennsylvania Rebellion.

The seamless transition may not come into full effect until years down the road, but whenever Escobedo makes the decision to become a full time coach, don’t be surprised if there is a spot waiting for her.

You can contact Drew Andre via e-mail or on Twitter @DrewJAndre

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