Talk about your bittersweet moments. York High softball coach Amy Hunter was enjoying the afterglow of the Falcons' win at Smithfield — and the program's first Bay Rivers District title since she pitched them to it in 1995 — when someone called her with news about two of her daughters' exploits in a York County Little League tournament game.
Riley, Hunter's 8-year-old daughter, had hit a triple, and then teammate Morgan, Hunter's 9-year-old, hit her first home run. Hunter, the Falcons' coach for 12 seasons, could not have been more torn.
“I was super excited for what I call my big girls,'” Hunter said of the victorious York softball players. “But I was missing my own girls first tournament, and they were so excited about it.
“I've had a lot of fun coaching York and I have a lot of great memories. But as a mom I don't want to look back and not have memories of my kids.”
So Hunter is resigning after 12 seasons as the Falcons' softball coach. In addition to paving the way for more memories, it will make transportation for her four kids easier.
Because she spends so much time coaching the Falcons, Hunter had been reluctant to enter her three daughters in spring sports: her son Dylan, 10, a basketball player, wasn't a problem. Hunter says she only signed Morgan and Riley up this spring because they were on the same team.
She signed up daughter Camryn, 6, for soccer because another parent could drive her to practices and games. Because of the logistics, Hunter said she told husband Jimmy often this spring that this might be her last season.
“I get to York each morning to teach (math) at 6:45,” Hunter said. “When we go to a game at New Kent, the kids are asleep when I get home. I had a feeling when we played in that Conference (25) championship game, it might be my last game on the field.
“It hit me because that has been such a big part of my life.”
Hunter starred on that field in high school and pitched a Group AA state semifinal game on it in 1995, back when state tournament games were hosted by one of the participants. That was the season she pitched York to the Bay Rivers title and earned AA all-state honors.
After pitching at Longwood University, Hunter came back to York, first as an assistant and the past 12 seasons as head coach. During that time her grandfather, Harry Johns, who passed away in December at 93, made many of the field and dugout improvements at the York softball diamond.
The Falcons were usually above .500 under Hunter and sometimes very good, as in 2011 when they reached the AA state quarterfinals.
“That was a great year and a fun season, similar to this one,” Hunter said. “I coached a lot of great girls and still have great relationships with many of them.
“I'm going to miss all of the team dinners at my house. The girls haven't just been my players, they've been a part of my life.
“My kids worshiped the ground they walked on. They talked about them and wanted to hear about them, and I'm going to miss that, too.”
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.