Wally Hausdorf never planned on being the Bryant softball coach. College basketball was his future, or so he thought.
“That was my goal,” he said.
Hausdorf was an assistant at Stony Brook, Old Westbury and Queens College, but when an opportunity arose to teach and then coach at Bryant, the Queens native hasn’t looked back.
Some 32 years later, New York State’s winningest softball coach reached a significant milestone Thursday afternoon, coaching in his 1,000th game as the Owls defeated Richmond Hill, 19-1, in Astoria.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Hausdorf said. “It seems like I just started and the next thing I know we’re into this and then all of a sudden the numbers start adding up.”
As have the wins (772) and division championships (14) for Hausdorf. That all came after a rather inauspicious debut.
“We lost to Cardozo 23-0 and I went home that night and said to my wife, ‘What did I get myself into?’” Hausdorf said. “Two years later we were in the city semifinals.”
Hausdorf likes to deflect the praise to his players (“I’ve never thrown a pitch and I’ve never hit a ball. It’s all them,” he said), but his players, current and past, disagree.
“I wasn’t an athlete, I was a dancer,” said Bryant assistant coach Alicia Sanchez, a 1997 graduate. “But he turned me into an all-city first baseman.”
Sanchez returned to join Hausdorf’s coaching staff eight years ago and it’s the best move she’s ever made, she said.
“He loves this, he loves these kids, he loves this program, he loves this building,” Sanchez said. “I’ve known him for 18 years and what he’s done for a lot of the girls in this program, myself included, I don’t think there’s any coach in the PSAL that can even come close to that. There’s some good coaches out there, but he’s the best.”
As the runs paraded home Thursday, so did the alumni to join in Hausdorf’s milestone. About a handful made their way to the home bench, each with a smile and a hug for someone who has been more than a coach to them.
“He’s with us not only softball season, but he’s with us year round through everything…He’s not just a coach, he’s like a second father,” star shortstop Gabby Faustino said. “It’s like a big happy family that never ends.”
That could also refer to Hausdorf’s career at Bryant. There’s no slowing down the 59-year-old. Sanchez joked she could see Hausdorf coaching the Owls for another 32 years and another 1,000 games.
“This is what keeps me young,” Hausdorf said. “I get paid to do this. Isn’t that ridiculous? This is what people would love to do for nothing.”
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