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EDITORIAL — Hooks era begins with much promise

Amy Hooks deserves hearty thanks from Lamar University softball fans.

The first-year head coach completed a difficult 23-34 campaign. It might have been worse, if Hooks hadn’t stepped in to re-establish order within Lamar’s program, surely and quickly. She apparently was every bit the head coach others believed she would be.

The measure of the season may lie in the fact that the program emerged from the 2019 season with eyes focused ahead. That’s probably everything that athletic director Marco Born might have hoped for when he hired Hooks last year.

Hooks, a Texas high school and University of Texas softball legend, was lured from her assistant’s position at Northwestern State in Louisiana in 2018 after turmoil in the Lamar program that involved a former player, catcher Paige Holmes, and the coaching staff — specifically former head coach Holly Bruder and assistant coach Allison Honkofsky, who was both Bruder’s assistant coach and spouse.

Holmes, a practicing Catholic, complained that on a road trip the assistant coach had ordered her to violate her Catholic mandates of abstaining from eating meat during Lent. According to news reports, the player took her complaints to the head coach, Bruder, and was benched for most of the rest of the season.

What transpired within the program in the last few months of the Bruder reign was never fully explained. Was Honkofsky dismissive or antagonistic of Holmes’ religious rights? Did Bruder, who’d revived the dormant Lamar program in 2013,

punish the player unfairly for complaining about her own spouse? It matters, if only to assure religious beliefs of players are respected and protected.

The departures of Bruder and Honkofsky left the program itself in a difficult way, with some players hurting and at a time when recruiting was underway. Many people surrounding the program and involved with subsequent legal action were unavailable for comment for our story last week. But the Lamar program did not collapse. That’s for certain. By most measures, Lamar softball remained competitive and Hooks was able to assemble new coaches and recruits and build the program.

Savana Guidry, a senior from Nederland, said Hooks created a positive environment for the team and led them through an enjoyable campaign.

“There was not a day we came in and thought it was not going to be fun after a loss,” Guidry said. “She was fun, encouraging and loose. Not a lot of pressure.”

Nor should there be. Lamar recruits superior athletes — this is top-level athletics — but sports ought to be enjoyable for players as well as fans.

Hooks also encouraged an atmosphere in which athletes could thrive as students, as well, which is the point they’re at Lamar.

We congratulate Hooks and her team. Wait until next year!

 

See also: Hooked on Hooks: Year after legal issues arise from couple’s firing, Lamar softball finishes first season under successor