ASHEBORO — Kristen Faircloth said even while playing as a member of the Asheboro High School varsity softball team from 2007-09, she dreamed of becoming the head coach of the program one day.
That day has come.
Faircloth was recently named the head varsity softball coach after veteran mentor Ricky Martiniez officially resigned that post when this season ended.
Faircloth has been an assistant coach at AHS for the past 10 years, while also leading the middle school softball program for the past four years.
“I’m really excited and happy,” said Faircloth, a two-time all-conference and all-county performer while playing with the Blue Comets. “I always wanted to be the head coach here, even when I was playing. I know there’s a lot of work to do and I’m excited to get going.”
After graduating from UNCG, Faircloth taught at Donna Lee Loflin Elementary School and began her coaching career under legendary softball coach Lisa Robertson. Faircloth, who played for Robertson in middle school and at AHS, spent three years as her assistant and just recently finished her 10th year of teaching and coaching at AHS.
“Miss Robertson was such a great example as far as professionalism, dedication and commitment,” Faircloth said. “There was never a day that I saw when she wasn’t prepared. The more I get into coaching and teaching, the more I realize I’m like her in that way.”
AHS, which finished in a three-way tie for the Mid-Piedmont Conference title in 2019, finished the next two COVID-shortened seasons at .500.
But the last two seasons have been rough. AHS is coming off a year in which they went winless in the MPC and finished 1-18 overall. They were outscored 264-48, giving up at least 10 runs in every game after a season-opening 3-2 loss to Randleman.
“Our goal for the next season is to get out there and work as hard as we can and have fun,” Faircloth said about her first varsity coaching experience. “We have a lot of work to do because we have a tough conference. As long as they work hard and do their best, I will be happy.”
Faircloth said she definitely has some long-term goals in mind.
“Next year, we want to get a couple of more wins than we got, but we know it’s going to take some time,” she said. “We’ll have softball workouts throughout the summer and fall and work in the weight room.
“We’re going to get the girls out there and get plenty of reps because that is what it will take for us to be competitive. It will be tough, but we will have some good senior leadership.”
Kyla Woody and Allison Allen are expected to return as seniors.
One of Faircloth’s main goals is to build the program. Numbers in recent years have been a big problem and that starts at the middle school level. SAMS and NAMS have had to combine to form one softball team in recent years, but even that didn’t help one recent year when there was no softball at the middle school level because of lack of interest.
“I think a lot of it is because we have people who aren’t as exposed to softball in Asheboro city,” Faircloth said. “We need to try and get more girls started at a young age. We feel we would have more girls who would try softball if they were exposed to it.
“It seems like we have a situation at the high school where a lot of girls are coming in who haven’t played it before. And we’re playing against teams who have girls who grew up playing ball. We just haven’t had the skill level of other teams.”
Faircloth certainly hopes to change that as quickly as possible.