My name is Johanna, although many know me as Jo, and I am the founder of Protect the Plate.
My love for catching began at age 8 when the coach of my all-boys baseball team asked if I wanted to try out the position. I immediately fell in love with the grind of the position: I was the leader of the infield, I was the decision-maker of pitch calls, and I was involved in every pitch of the game. This position was for me! When I was 10 years old, I switched from playing baseball to softball as my family moved from Detroit, MI to Glastonbury, CT. I played for the Connecticut Eliminators organization throughout my adolescent years.
My desire to attend a high academic institution and to play softball at a competitive level landed me at Tufts University in Medford, MA. My collegiate experience offered me the opportunity to be able to do it all. In the classroom, I took a range of classes that allowed me to get a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. On the field, the team went a combined 134-14 over the last three years and captured two NCAA Division III National Championships, while I was awarded All-American honors three times. Outside the lines, I was involved in many organizations that focused on student-athlete experience and development. In my four years at Tufts, I was constantly pushed to become a better student, athlete, person, and leader through a broad range of opportunities and experiences in and outside the lines.
I was successful as a player at the plate, but I always prided myself on my work behind the plate and on my relationships with each of the pitchers. One of the stat lines that I am the most proud of is the steady decline in team ERA during the four years I was behind the dish for Tufts: 3.21 (2011), 2.67 (2012), 1.55 (2013), and 1.01 (2014), which ranked second in the country. The culmination of my career was being named the Diamond Catcher of the Year in 2014.
Upon graduation, a friend suggested that I give private lessons in my spare time as a way to stay connected to the game. One catcher turned into two catchers and two catchers turned into small group lessons. As I began to lead group lessons and clinics, I realized I had a passion for catcher instruction and development. There is no greater feeling than the "ah-ha" moment in a girl's face when she actually begins to get it. That feeling alone is more satisfying to me than all of the success that I saw as a player throughout my years. I quickly realized that as a coach, I am not only teaching skills to be used behind the plate, but I am also in a position to inspire girls to chase their dreams off the field.