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The Gal from Goodlettsville: Kassie Stanfill’s Odyssey

A Tennessee accent creeps through at times in talking to Kassie Stanfill. The native of Goodlettsville, Tennessee has spent nearly her entire life and career in the south, but there’s only a hint of a twang on certain words.


Rarely without a smile on her face and never short on showing emotion, Stanfill doesn’t shy away from the fact that, as she herself says it, she wears her heart on her sleeve.


That’s a phrase that can be used as a positive or a negative, truly depending just on the speaker’s intent. For Austin Peay’s head coach, though, it’s decidedly the former, a quality that shapes a major part of who she is and what she does.


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As a youngster – “baby Kassie”, she notes with a laugh – Stanfill was, in some ways, the quintessential little sister. Four years the youngest of the Stanfill clan, by the time Kassie began playing softball at age six, her sister was already well into her own adventures on the diamond.

“I always wanted to do what my sister was doing,” Kassie recalls.

Both of the Stanfill girls played softball and basketball in their younger years, though Kassie left the hardwood behind before middle school. From then on, she concentrated her efforts on being at her best between the white lines.


Anyone who knows Kassie Stanfill now would describe her as competitive; make no mistake, she says it about herself, too. That high level of competitiveness goes back to, no surprise, those same formative years of sister vs. sister showdowns.


Whether in backyard fun or even a card game at the kitchen table, older sister Kristin frequently came out on top. And young Kassie didn’t like to lose. “I started getting super competitive when I got tired of my sister always winning,” Kassie says now, laughing once again.


The Stanfill family is close, so intrafamily competition being the catalyst for Kassie’s super-competitive current self is worth a quick laugh. At the end of the day, family has informed far more of present-day Kassie than just her competitive fire.


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Austin Peay softball has a slogan – “One Family, One Goal”. It’s been said that some programs reflect their coach’s personality and that’s absolutely true for Stanfill’s Govs.


Familial closeness has always been a Stanfill clan theme, and that closeness holds true even today. It’s only about an hour’s trip home to Goodlettsville these days, and whether she’s making the trip for a specific reason or just to visit and catch up, Kassie is quick to note that it’s a trip she always makes by choice.

“If there’s something at home that I need to be there for and I can get away, I will,” she says. “I always will choose to be present whenever possible. It’s not an obligation; I want to be around. Being absent would honestly bother me more.”

There’s not a hint of hyperbole when she says that, either, and her efforts to be consciously present for her loved ones also extend past even just her immediate family. She keeps a tight circle of friends, but even being outside that circle doesn’t mean you’re forgotten in Kassie’s world.

“Maybe my empathetic side appears too often,” she says with a laugh. “But that’s what I’ve always done, how I’ve always been. I don’t know any other way to be! I have a small circle, but even outside of it, I like to check in on people, to see how they’re doing and just check in with them.”

When ‘Kassie’ steps aside and the “Coach K” hat goes on, those same qualities are still at the forefront. Even in work mode, Stanfill isn’t all business. Life happenings and her very nature combine to bring out more of what she calls “the counselor side of Kassie,” noting that she “always want[s] to be the active coach, the kind of coach that checks in and checks on [her players] as people and as athletes.”

“If they sign the dotted line, their family is our family,” Stanfill said, summing up. “We’ll support them the same way they support us. That’s what it’s about.”

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Being the center of attention has never been Stanfill’s way. “And I’m very good with that,” she’s quick to note, laughing yet again.


She’s far from introverted, but not an in-your-face extrovert either. She won’t pick the fight, but she also isn’t afraid to speak up for her beliefs. “If you hear my voice, then you know that’s something I really care about,” she says.

“With age, you find out your values and what you want to be known for,” she added. “I’m not going to be anyone but me. I’m unapologetically myself… don’t ever let any one thing define you, but recognize it as just a piece of the puzzle.“It is what it is, it’s not who I am.”

Exactly who Stanfill is could fill a line of adjectives. Some came from her, things she hopes to live out so that they make it into her obituary some day in the distant future; others come from those around her, some of the very people in that tight-knit circle that she holds so dear.


“Little Miss Sunshine” is on the list; “a big heart” makes an appearance more than once on the list, for obvious reasons.


Not everything in life is all sunshine and rainbows, though.


When her smile is beaming and the emotions are happy, Kassie doesn’t mind showing them to anyone and everyone. On the days when those emotions point in another direction, though, she aims to stay low-key.

“I rarely let people see my emotion,” she admits. “Emotions are my weakness.”

A tear slipped through when she talked about some tough times in life. Her eyes glistened with another tear or two when she talked about the instances that she’s had to put on the proverbial mask of everything being fine and dandy.


The rare moments that bring out her seldom-seen angry side? Someone treating another person badly. “Just be a good human – that’s all it takes,” she says, almost in a wish to the world.


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That softness, that sensitivity that makes up such a dominating part of Stanfill’s personality? Don’t mistake that for her being a total pushover. Part of her lede is that she’s not a yeller by nature, but don’t take that the wrong way either – a lack of red-faced volume isn’t the only way to get things across.

“I tell every player ‘there will be days where you are not a fan of Coach K because I’m going to push you,’” Stanfill says. “‘We’re going to have hard days; I demand a lot and we are going to be the hardest-working team in the conference. But on those same days that you don’t like Coach K, I’m going to follow it up that night with a call to find out how you are.’”

Now entering her fifth season as the head coach at Austin Peay, Stanfill has quietly had success as the program’s leader. Success on the field made her the second-winningest coach in the Ohio Valley Conference over the last four years, while success in other areas included oversight of a near-total revamp of the Governors’ softball facilities, including a brand-new locker room in 2021.


Her 13th year as a college coach is just beginning and Stanfill says she can’t imagine herself doing anything else: “Getting to play a role in 18-22 year-old females’ lives, watching and helping them build and grow and discover who they are as people… that’s where the enjoyment comes from for me, in watching that difference be made in them.”

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