The PCA Blog

2024 National Winner, PCA Coach of the Year presented by TeamSnap, Ciera Jones

The basic program tenants for Friends of Baseball are the acronym LEAD-Learning and Empowering through Athletic Development. Under Ciera’s expert leadership, the participants in the Girls Lead Softball program are taught fundamental softball skills in a fun, engaging way. Ciera instructs her players with a passion and love for softball that is infectious and makes them excited to be a part of the softball community. 

The program seeks to provide access to underserved youth and approximately half of the participants in the Girls Lead Softball Program have never played softball before and are new to the sport. Ciera encourages beginners with a warmth and encouragement that is special to behold. She is gifted at breaking down complex skills or tasks into bite-sized pieces that her players can learn step-by-step. Ciera models for her players that mistakes are not bad, but a natural part of the learning process. She encourages her players to learn from mistakes, and often to laugh them off.

Ciera is a fierce advocate for each youth in the program, regardless of their skill level. She is able to notice the kids who need extra support and finds ways to quietly meet their needs in meaningful ways. Ciera understands the importance of providing female, (and female-identifying), athletes with female coaches and mentors. She has routinely demonstrated a commitment to recruiting and training female coaches from diverse backgrounds and communities so that the Girls Lead Softball Camps can be a female-centered space for our campers where the diversity of our campers is also reflected in the coaches who are leading them.

Ciera possesses a deep commitment to providing opportunities and access to EVERY youth who wants to play. She is sensitive to the economic barriers that can sometimes keep girls from playing softball. Approximately 75% of the Girls Lead Campers qualify for free/reduced lunch and receive camp scholarships from FOB. Ciera has worked to foster partnerships with local foundations and grants so that every camper can receive a new softball glove and softball, which they get to keep at the completion of camp. Knowing that the cost of a glove would present a barrier for many families, providing these treasured items to all campers encourages them to keep practicing, and makes it more likely they will stay in the game.

By making these types of considerations and accommodations, Ciera is signaling her care and support to each child in her program, creating a space that is accessible and welcoming to all.