A critical part of any live stage performance occurs backstage. Behind the scenes, a stage manager has to ensure the production runs smoothly. They might assist actors, situate props or lead the lighting and sound cues. Arguably the most important person in a theatrical performance never sees the other side of the curtain.
In many ways, head coach Yvette Healy is the stage manager for Wisconsin softball. She may not be fielding or hitting during conference games, but she is responsible for ensuring her players walk up to the plate prepared and ready to dominate.
Healy, now in her seventh season directing the program, owns the best winning percentage of any UW coach in history at 193-130-1. Although Healy is only the program’s third coach, her experience and personality laid the groundwork for her quick success at the helm.
Before Healy’s college coaching career kicked off, she was head coach for her alma mater Providence Catholic High School. That experience provided a smooth transition to an assistant coaching job at DePaul University. Her ability as a coach likely stems in part from her impressive playing career at DePaul, where she set the all-time stolen bases record with 102 and led the Blue Demons to the College World Series in her senior year.
After departing DePaul, Healy accepted a head coaching opportunity at Loyola University. For six years, her character outshined any record her team accumulated. She was a driving force in the community and her team participated in the Strike Out Cancer campaign for the Susan G. Komen foundation. Healy even served as a mentor for Girls in the Game, a non-profit organization promoting women, sports and health in Chicago. Although her job was strictly to coach, Healy quickly became a positive role model for her players and the community.
Many coaches and friends saw her eventual success as imminent. “She has everything you’re looking for in a head coach with her leadership skills as well as her experience,” DePaul head coach Eugene Lenti told UWBadgers.com. Indeed, Barry Alvarez and company found Healy to be an ideal candidate that could bring Badger softball back into the national spotlight.
Healy became the head coach of the softball program on July 24, 2010, and immediately made her presence known. In her first year, the Badgers tallied the most stolen bases ever in a single season with 107 and won 30 games, just the sixth time the team had ever reached that mark.
As the accomplishments continued to mount, Healy kept a keen eye trained on the community and its well-being. Although past and present Badger softball stars have enjoyed the spotlight during games, Healy’s influence is apparent when her athletes participate in on-campus community service like Badgers Give Back.
Not only has Healy molded the Badgers into a consistently successful fixture in the Big Ten, but she stresses the importance of being a student-athlete as well. A former All-American herself, she has guided her players to prosper both on and off the diamond; the Badgers have had 22 Academic All-Big Ten recognitions in her six years thus far.
It didn’t take long for the entire culture of the softball program to shift following Healy’s hiring. She breathed a winning mentality and positive influence into the Madison community.
For six years, Healy has been comfortable away from the spotlight. She will continue to be a crucial aspect of the program whether she receives the attention she deserves or not. Whether the team is walloping opponents or struggling to find wins, there is a level of comfort knowing Healy is running around backstage preparing for the next scene.