By MARTY JAMES
Napa Valley College has a very proud and storied history in softball.
Coach Robert Maglione started the program in the early 1980s and as the head coach led Napa Valley to six Bay Valley Conference titles, to the state finals twice, and a 456-224 record, from 1981 to 1995.
Coach Karen Yoder guided NVC to the Bay Valley title in 2003 and a second-place finish in the conference's West Division in 2004.
Current coach Michelle Hobbs attained her 200th career win with the Storm during the 2016 season, when they advanced to the California Community College Athletic Association Northern Regional playoffs for the third time in four years.
"We've had an amazing successful program here," said Hobbs.
Napa Valley suspended its softball program the last two years, the 2017 and 2018 seasons, because of not enough players.
Hobbs is doing all she can to put together a team for the spring 2020 season.
There are flyer announcements posted on bulletin boards around campus, announcing that the 2019-2020 season is here. Interested players can contact Hobbs at (707) 256-7664 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prospective players can also meet with Hobbs in her office in the athletic department, No. 602A.
"I just want people to know that it's a great opportunity," Hobbs said last week. "I have said this for years: I will teach you about life through the game of softball, and so you'll learn about softball, you'll compete in softball. But ultimately, it's making the connections and helping people grow as a person and then as an athlete.
"I'm missing, obviously, being out on the field, and I'm missing having that connection, having that closeness with a team, that bond and really seeing them grow into mature adults.
"At the end of the day, it's about softball. But for me, it's much, much more."
There is also an announcement on the NVC athletics website, nvcstorm.com, on the softball page.
NVC has a fall softball class, Physical Education, 178, that provides two units. The class is held on Monday and Wednesdays, at 12:30 p.m.
So far, there have been six players in the class, with Hobbs trying to find more. She has been in contact with at least five more prospective players.
"We have tried every year since we didn't have a team to try to get our program back up and running again. We're just really trying to get the word out," said Hobbs. "I want them to know that we are working hard to get a team, and that experience isn't necessary, although it would be definitely beneficial, because I don't want there to be an issue with safety. Ideally, I would like to get some people out there that maybe have had a little bit of experience or a little bit of desire or the drive to learn, to get out there and do something new and competitive."
Napa Valley (18-21 overall, 17-7 Bay Valley Conference) finished in second place in the conference during the 2016 season, Hobbs' 11th year with the Storm.
"I know my work ethic. I know what I've put into this program for 11 straight seasons, trying to make it work," said Hobbs. "I'm really just hoping to get the word out there to pull interest and to really try to get a team together for the 2020 season.
"My plan is that we are going to have a team."
Hobbs has also coached youth tournament travel softball teams with the Napa Valley Express, Napa Xtreme and Game Day (Vacaville) organizations.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association, Associated Press Sports Editors, and California Prep Sports Media Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.