Oklahoma Softball Coach Patty Gasso Focuses on Winning Souls More Than Winning Games
Gasso Tells Fellowship of Christian Athletes Magazine: ‘I’ve Figured Out What My Purpose Is; Our Team Is Winning in Other Ways Behind the Scenes’
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Patty Gasso is all about the wins, but not in the way one might think.
It would be easy for the Oklahoma Hall of Fame softball coach to focus on the on-field wins. After all, the Sooners chalked up a 30-win streak earlier this season, not losing a game in all of March and continuing the streak into mid-April. In fact, after the streak-breaking loss on April 19, it’s been all Ws since.
But Gasso tells the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Magazine—she’s been a longtime friend of the international sports ministry—that she’s focusing on other winning ways.
“I feel like I’ve arrived,” Gasso told FCA. “I’ve figured out what my purpose is here. Many people, probably 99 percent, believe my purpose here is to win. And I get that. But I’m winning in other ways; our team is winning in other ways behind the scenes.”
Each week before their Sunday games, the Sooner softball players hold voluntary prayer services, Bible discussions and chapel services. This is where the winning behind the scenes happens, and after 28 years of coaching, Gasso can rest assured that she’s added more to God’s kingdom than four national championships.
In 1995, Gasso was coaching at Long Beach City College when she hesitantly accepted the job at Oklahoma. She took a pay cut, and the Sooners didn’t even have their own field. Gasso was “scared to death” but wanted the opportunity so much. Before the move, Patty and her husband, Jim, who led her to Christ earlier in their marriage, sat in their California living room while her conflicting emotions poured out in the form of tears. They prayed together and knew it was time to fully put their faith in Christ.
By 1997, Gasso was inviting her Oklahoma players to a voluntary weekly Bible discussion. Three years later, she loved coaching and her players, but thought perhaps the 2000 season would be her last. She was under the demands of a long-distance marriage—Jim had moved back to California in 1999 to coach soccer at Fullerton Community College—was raising two sons, leading the Sooners and squeezing in time to recruit.
But despite these difficulties, the Sooners reached their first-ever College World Series that year.
“That’s when God really made it clear,” Gasso said, “‘You need to stay here, and this is where you need to do My work.’ I started to understand that my job is more to open the door for Christ to win souls. It’s not about me.”
And for 18 years since, Gasso has done just that, doing her best to glorify God along the way and instilling in her players something much deeper than wins and losses on the softball diamond.
Read the rest of the FCA Magazine feature on Gasso, titled “Patty the Messenger.”
Read more about Fellowship of Christian Athletes here, visit FCA’s web site at www.fca.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed @fcanews.