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Wesleyan School Girls’ Softball Coach Mary Blalock Steps Down

Mary Blalock isn't done with coaching forever, but she’s excited about motherhood and continuing her leadership roles at Wesleyan School.
Mary Blalock and 2023 season seniors courtesy of Wesleyan School

Mary Blalock will remain assistant principal and teacher at the Christian school

Although she was a pretty good athlete, Mary Blalock considers herself a better coach.

“I’ve seen … people who are good athletes and then become good coaches. But personally, I think most coaches weren’t necessarily star athletes,” she said. “There’s certainly plenty of star athletes who can become great coaches, but I learned a lot in my athletic career, and I just knew I wanted to be a coach since I was a kid.”

Blalock is the head coach of the Wesleyan School girls’ softball team and the school’s assistant principal. She also teaches AP U.S. government. She recently announced that she’s relinquishing her coaching duties but remaining an administrator and teacher.

Mary Blalock isn't done with coaching forever, but she’s excited about motherhood and continuing her leadership roles at Wesleyan School.
Mary Blalock’s school portrait courtesy of Wesleyan School

“My husband and I are expecting our first child, so that’s really the driver for this decision,” she said.

“We are overjoyed to be starting our family. With the timing of the season and other things that go along with trying to grow our family, we felt like the best thing to do would be to step down,” she explained.

Her dedication to sports has been evident since Blalock was a child, said Lacy Gilbert, director of athletics at Wesleyan School.

“My first introduction to Mary was in my first year at Wesleyan in 1997 when her older brother asked me if we’d make an exception and allow his fifth-grade sister to play on our seventh-grade basketball team,” Gilbert said.

“Through teaching Mary in middle school PE … to leading her mission trip to the Dominican Republic her senior year, and later dropping by Wesleyan to catch up when she was home from Tulane, Mary and I have always had a great relationship. It is now an incredible blessing to work with her as a friend and colleague,” she added.

Inspiring role models

Blalock’s relationship with the school goes beyond her years as an employee.

“In 1996, when Wesleyan moved from Sandy Springs United Methodist Church to its current campus in Peachtree Corners and added a high school, my parents took me and my two older brothers and moved us from public school to Wesleyan,” she said.

She was in fifth grade at the time and spent the rest of her pre-college education there.

“My experience as a student here is the primary driver of my motivation for why I got into teaching and coaching,” she said. “I had such a great experience of people helping to develop me, not just as a student or an athlete, but spiritually.”

She recalled Coach Heidi Lloyd as someone who helped her grow in many ways.

“I was a kid, and she and I are colleagues now, which is fun. We’ve had a long, long relationship,” she said. “People like that inspired me to get into this field.”

Blalock played softball in the fall, basketball in the winter and golf in the spring. She went to college at Tulane University in New Orleans. Upon graduation, she came back to work at Wesleyan School.

“I arrived at Wesleyan in 2002 while Coach Blalock was a student. Following her graduation from Wesleyan in 2004, we were delighted to welcome her back as a member of our Faculty Fellows program in 2008,” said Chris Cleveland, head of school.

She has remained an employee of the school since then and has consistently proven to be an exemplary member of the Wesleyan community.

Nicole Dixon, who’s currently at Holy Innocents as an assistant athletic director and the head girls’ basketball coach, was the head softball coach here at Wesleyan,” Blalock said. “She taught me so much about what coaching is about and gave me a lot of responsibility at a young age. She helped me learn what it’s all about.”

Blalock was an assistant to Dixon for eight years. When Dixon left for Holy Innocents, Blalock succeeded her as the head softball coach.

“There is a difference between someone who coaches a team and someone who builds a program. The success of the program in terms of wins and losses is obvious, but what I appreciate most about Mary is that she has created a culture within the softball program,” said Cleveland.

“It is rooted in our Christian mission, that places sportsmanship and character above championships, and in which our players know they are loved and valued for who they are and not just for what they accomplish,” he added.

Christian-centered approach to coaching

“I would say any leadership position is ultimately about relationships. And I would say that’s probably doubly true if you’re talking about coaching at the high school level,” said Blalock.

“My responsibility as their coach is to help them develop as athletes. But I care much more about their spiritual and character development because … everybody’s athletic career ends at some point,” she explained.

Mary Blalock isn't done with coaching forever, but she’s excited about motherhood and continuing her leadership roles at Wesleyan School.
Mary Blalock coaching during the fall 2023 season courtesy of Wesleyan School

“You hope that the things that you learned about being a part of a team, about making sacrifices for the good of others, about perseverance, about grit and overcoming adversity, are applicable outside of the athletic arena,” she said.

Her students wholeheartedly agree.

“When I look back on my time at Wesleyan, Coach Blalock is one of the things I’m most grateful for, in addition to the Wesleyan Softball Program in general,” said Jameson Kavel, a 2017 Wesleyan graduate. “She coached me from the fifth grade and for all eight of those years, I got to pick up on how she handled herself, how she saw the world and the way her faith impacted her life.”

Kavel went on to play softball at Duke University from 2018 to 2022.

“She may not even know the true impact she’s had on my life, but she has helped to shape who I am today, as well as countless others both on and off the field,” Kavel added.

“My career as a softball player and who I am today would be vastly different without her. I am so thankful for a role model like her and for all that she has done for Wesleyan softball and the players that have gone through that program,” said Kavel.

Macey Cintron, who will be graduating from Wesleyan School this year and playing softball at Clemson University next year, has similar sentiments.

“Coach Blalock Is a very important mentor in my life on and off the field. She is the epitome of a selfless leader. She always goes out of her way to help her players while keeping a very personal and balanced relationship with each of us. She also has shown me how I can live out a Christ-centered life amid the athletics world,” she said.

As a young woman heading into a lot of unknowns, Cintron has relied on Blalock to set the example she’d like to emulate.

“Personally, I have looked up to her a lot over these past four years and I know that even after I graduate, she will always be there for me if I need her. I believe that her coaching style Is very hard to come across because she is a discipline coach, but she coaches with love because she knows our full potential and works hard every day to get us closer to that,” said Cintron.

“I’m so glad to have been able to play under her for the past four years in high school, and I do not believe that our program would’ve been as successful as we were without her,” Clintron added.

Other administrators have similar opinions.

“Mary has been outstanding as the head of our softball program and has become one of the most respected coaches in the state. Mary is passionate about softball, challenging her team to be the best they can be on the field and to perform at the highest level,” said Gilbert.

“More than softball, she cares deeply about each player on her team, pushing them to be the best person they can in all aspects of life. Her deep faith in Jesus is evident in how she carries herself each day and in how she encourages her players to grow in their faith as well. Her players love to play for her as she has a great balance of hard work and fun,” Gilbert explained.

Mary Blalock isn't done with coaching forever, but she’s excited about motherhood and continuing her leadership roles at Wesleyan School.
Fall 2023 season player Macey Cintron courtesy of Wesleyan School

Paving the way for the future student-athletes

Blacklock still has a lot she wants to accomplish at Wesleyan School.

“Wesleyan is the only place I’ve ever wanted to work,” said Blalock. “I’ve entertained going to other places, but it’s just different here. And I think for me, especially, I am driven to try to provide the same life-changing experience for kids that was provided to me by the adults who were in my life when I was a student-athlete here.”

Although she won’t be formally coaching, she’ll give any assistance that’s asked for.

“I have my hands in a lot of different parts of the academic experience. So, I can still support [the softball team members] in a lot of different ways when it comes to the school side of things,” she said.

And she’ll probably be the most enthusiastic cheerleader at the games.

“I’m very invested in making sure we have a smooth transition to my successor and all that kind of stuff,” she said. “My coaching staff is returning, and I think that helps to provide some continuity and stability.”

Marc Khedouri, assistant head of school for advancement, has no doubts that Blalock will continue to motivate and inspire students on and off the field.

“I have interacted with Coach Blalock in a variety of contexts. I was the Dean of Students during her tenure in high school, and I was Director of Athletics when she was appointed Head Softball Coach,” he said.

Thus, our paths have crossed an innumerable number of times over the last 20 years,” he added. “I couldn’t be prouder of the person Coach Blalock has become. Her immense success on and off the field is a surprise to no one. As a student-athlete, she was ever diligent, always prepared and uncommonly unselfish. I can point her out to any young woman at Wesleyan and say, ‘I hope you grow up to be just like Coach Blalock.’”

Blalock won’t say she’s done with coaching forever, but she’s excited about motherhood and continuing her leadership roles at Wesleyan School.

Learn more about Wesleyan School here.

Featured photo caption: Mary Blalock and 2023 season seniors courtesy of Wesleyan School

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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