April 6, 2005
The following is an interview conducted by Florida State softball center fielder Carly Brieske. Each week, the junior sits down with someone important to the Seminole softball program. For today’s interview, Brieske talked to her own coach, Dr. JoAnne Graf about various topics. To read her past entries, visit the softball page.
Coach Graf is so special and it’s hard to describe how important she is to our team and me personally. She is totally concerned about her players and would do anything for all of us. We appreciate everything she dedicates to us and the softball program here at Florida State. I could go on forever about her admirable qualities.
Out of all my memories of softball at Florida State, this past weekend had to be one of the most exciting because the field was named in Coach Graf’s honor. What an amazing accomplishment! I had the chance to sit down with her this week and although our team knows how special she is, I thought it’d be great for all the fans to know a little more about Coach Graf (AKA Flash). Enjoy …
CB: In your wildest dreams would you have ever thought a field would be named after you?
JG: No, it’s not really something you ever think about. Getting into coaching you never really know how long you will stay at one school or how long you will stay in coaching. I never would have forecasted that happening.
CB: What thoughts were running through your head during the dedication?
JG: I was really thinking about all the coaches and players that have worked with me over the past years. Also, the people on the search committee who really had confidence to hire me as a young head coach. I also thought about all the great memories on the field and the future, even when I’m not coaching.
“Success doesn’t come from just the wins and losses. Seeing players enjoy the game, accomplish things, overcome disappointments and frustrations and seeing how they work through that…that’s success.”
CB: After coaching for the past 27 years how have you kept your desire and love for the game so strong?
JG: I think its just competition. I like the challenge. Every game is different. I enjoy the players I’ve coached. The fun thing about my job is giving the players opportunities to learn things through athletics and about themselves and seeing them grow.
CB: What is your most memorable coaching moment?
JG: Oh geez. I don’t have just one! I really enjoy when squeeze plays work. I have fun calling them because that’s really related to reading the opponent and having faith in the batter to put the ball down. The final out of championship games are always fun too.
CB: You are admired by many people in the sports world but who do you admire?
JG: Obviously my parents are pretty special in my development and in my career. They were always positive and encouraging with everything I ever did. They always helped me believe I could accomplish anything I wanted to accomplish. My aunt is also admirable, she gave up a lot of herself, by helping other people and devoted herself to become a Catholic nun.
CB: How do you define success?
JG: Success doesn’t come from just the wins and losses. Seeing players enjoy the game, accomplish things, overcome disappointments and frustrations and seeing how they work through that…that’s success. Success is also obviously seeing players graduate.
CB: What can you attribute all your success to?
JG: Being at a great university makes it easy to recruit and attract good players. The school is great academically and great Florida weather is always attractive. We have everything a player could want. My assistant coaches and players have contributed greatly over the years to the success of the program. It is also understanding the importance of a balance for the players between softball, school and a social life.
CB: If coaching softball was not part of your life what would your occupation be?
JG: I like to be a dolphin feeder. Dolphins are pretty neat. I would like to try to train them. They have a cute smile.
CB: Everyone sees you as the legendary softball coach but how do you spend your free time off the field?
JG: I like doing a lot of outdoor things. I like golfing, kayaking, canoeing, walking on the beach. I like any kind of athletic sports. I used to run but I’ve gotten too old for that and now I enjoy working more. I also enjoy working in the yard. I like staying active…I can’t sit still.
CB: What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
JG: Maybe making the bet with you guys to dye my hair and put in cornrows for the World Series or maybe doing “the worm.”
CB: What is it going to take for fans to see your dancing skills (the worm)?
JG: The fans aren’t going to see it ever (laughs). But if we win a national championship I will think about it then. ( Carly’s note: I think some fans might have seen it last year after one of our big wins.)
CB: When you hang up the cleats (visor) what is one word that would describe how you want to be remembered?
JG: Someone who gave a 100 percent to the players and did the best job I could do.
Well, that’s the end of my interview with legendary Seminole softball coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. Congratulations Coach Graf! The team and I are honored to play for such an genuine lady and amazing coach. Thank you fans for all the support this weekend especially during coach Graf’s special dedication.
Stay tuned for an interview next week with another important member of our staff. One of my personal favorites (I know I say that about everyone).
Go Noles! BEAT FLORIDA!