Family on and off the field


The trio of Susan Sharpe, Dara Sharpe and Brittany Wratchford.

Ellen Rosson, Editor-in-Chief

The goal of softball is to make it home and score for the team, for this softball team “home” is brought everywhere within the mother-daughter bond on the field. Softball generates a family atmosphere between teammates leading to victories and bonds that last a lifetime.  Unique to Louisa’s program, there is a family bond between Head Coach Susan Sharpe, Assistant Coach Brittany Wratchford and Team Captain Dara Sharpe. 

The journey started with Wratchford. Susan began coaching Wratchford. Through the Louisa softball program, Wratchford went on to play D1 for Radford University then returned as an assistant coach for The Lions. Though coaching was never a specific goal of hers out of college, Wratchford’s love for the sport brought her back to coach. 

“After college I discovered I would definitely still want softball in my life and there was an opportunity to coach JV so I took it,” Wratchford said. 

Coaching became a passion for the former player and she moved up to Varsity coaching alongside her mom and former coach Susan Sharpe. Her sister made varsity freshman year and the journey for the trio officially began.

“The age-difference between us has been one of the most rewarding things because as my career was ending I was able to help Dara’s take off, ” Wratchford said.

The trio’s bond grew stronger through the disciplines and dedications on the field. Through blood, sweat and tears the three have been side by side through triumphs and trials.

Dara first found her way to playing on the field within t-ball and then little league.

“I didn’t coach her her first year in little league because she was unsure about playing and a friend of mine convinced her to play, so I just let her run with it,” Coach Sharpe said. 

Mrs. Sharpe began coaching Dara when she was eight years old and challenged her by teaming her with girls who were two years older than her. 

“After meeting with the parents of 10u I asked if they wanted to start a travel team that Dara could play on even though she was eight and the others were 10,” Coach Sharpe said.

Continuously Dara would put in the work and rise to the challenge of playing against older girls. Just like everyone else, Dara fought for her spot to be on the field and gained playing time. This 10u team was trademarked as being Phase Two of Louisa Thunder and the journey of Dara’s softball career kicked off. 

Throughout Dara’s softball career she looked up to her older sister and saw the impact the sport made for her and her mom. Her love for the sport drives her to continue year after year and improve everyday.

“Playing for my sister and my mom has definitely made it more meaningful being on the field basically since the day I was born, the love for it was instantly there,” Sharpe said.

Seeing her sister have success was inspirational and also presented challenges for her knowing there were big shoes to fill. Soon Sharpe realized she was a different player than her sister and possessed different talents and strengths on the field. 

“Brittany was a big name in Louisa when she played, so coming through the same high school everyone expected me to be the same player as her,” Sharpe said. 

As she continued to perfect her craft, she discovered the two were both talented players and brought different attributes to the team.

“It took me until about halfway through my sophomore year to grow into who I was as a player,” Sharpe said.

Combining her love for the sport and confidence in her abilities Dara decided to pursue playing in college.

The goal of playing at the collegiate level led to a switch in travel teams and the Sharpe’s moved on to Sarasota Heat out of Richmond. 

“I coached her on 14u for Sarasota Heat when she was 12 but stepped away from coaching her when she was moved to 16u because I had a lot of respect for the guy who was coaching at the time,” Sharpe said.

A year later, Dara would be moved up to the 18u team and play for the same coach who coached her older sister.

Last July, dreams became a reality as Dara committed to play D1 with George Mason University. 

Every year Dara has been able to learn more on the field and off through watching game film and the pros on tv. 

“When she is not on the field playing she is in her room watching it,” Coach Sharpe states, “She will watch baseball or softball all the time, it’s just what she does, she studies the game.”

Coaching Dara has been full of emotions for the mother-daughter duo and also challenges. All eyes could be found on the player due to the extra stress of being the coach’s daughter. 

“Every year, I would have Coach Pelot evaluate tryouts and make notes on the girls so there would be no bias,” Coach Sharpe said.

Dara’s work within the game continued to earn her a spot on the field. Everytime Dara steps up to bat her biggest supporters can be found on first and third. 

  “My proudest memory was seeing Dara hit her first homerun,” Wratchford reflects.

As her high school career comes to a close Coach Sharpe is excited to watch Dara excel at the collegiate level but nostalgic about losing the bond over coaching with the three of them together on the field. 

“When Brittany went to play Dara was my crutch, now as Dara prepares to go there’s a realization that it all is over,” Coach Sharpe said.

The three together as a player and coaches are like three bases leading right back to home creating the biggest victory within the family on the field.

Senior Dara Sharpe and Assistant Coach and Sister Brittany Wratchford.