Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Softball [Print without images]

Friday, June 19, 2009
Tiumalus team up for success

By Garland Cooper
ESPNRISE.com

There is nothing quite as special as a bond between a father and a daughter. From when she takes her first step, to when she throws her first pitch, to when she walks down the aisle, her dad is always right by her side.

Alyssa & JT Tiumalu
Alyssa and JT Tiumalu have a great relationship on and off the field.

JT and Alyssa Tiumalu have a special bond to celebrate this father's day; JT is the coach of Alyssa's high school softball team, Elk Grove (Calif.).

"I love the game and I played baseball growing up," said JT. "When I ended up with four girls, it didn't look like I'd be coaching baseball."

But JT admits that it hasn't always been easy balancing both the father and coach roles.

"I used to be pretty hard on her," admits JT, "but I learned to let her play and do her thing. That's just the nature of being a dad, she has had her share of butt chewing!"

If he was hard on her, Alyssa didn't seem to care. She can't imagine having played without her dad by her side.

"I love playing for my dad," she said. "I've played for him from the start and I've always loved it."

JT might be the envy of sports dads everywhere; he's able to give advice right in the dugout instead of from the sidelines or in the car after a game.

"I have seen every game she has played except maybe three," he said. "It started in T-ball and I have been able to see her improvement. I have been able to see her at showcases with scouts in the stands watching her perform, all the while watching her mature as an adult. I'm very lucky."

Unfortunately, there will be a point in the near future when JT will have to coach Alyssa from the stands. She has committed to play softball at UCLA.

"That was my proudest moment as a father," said JT, "when we talked to Coach [Kelly Inouye-Perez] and Alyssa verballed to UCLA."

While Westwood is not too far from Elk Grove, it is not the same as sitting in the dugout.

"We will travel as much as we can, we probably will get to see about half of the games," he said. "We definitely plan on seeing her play as much as we can!"

Alyssa will take everything she has learned from her dad throughout the years. The best advice her dad has given her is to always remain well-rounded.

"He told me to be the best student-athlete I could be," said Alyssa. "He said to keep up in school with good grades and to work hard on the softball field."

It looks like the hard work has paid off.

"I wouldn't trade it for anything," said JT.

Garland Cooper covers high school softball for ESPNRISE.com.