Coach Lacey Craft has been part of Palomar her entire life, as a spectator while watch her father coached football, playing softball for the Comets in 2002, and now currently coaching softball. Craft now has an agenda to give back to the school that has given her so much.
After Palomar won the softball state championship last season, coach Lacey Craft and staff were recognized by the National Fast-pitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Craft believes it was her team’s perseverance and dedication that help her and the rest of the staff win the title.
Coach Craft said she has always had athletics in her blood. Growing up in San Marcos and Valley Center, Craft was an exceptional softball player and earned Most Valuable Player awards during her sophomore and senior years in high school. Her dominance is due to her father, Tom Craft, who is a former Palomar football head coach (83-00′).
Since her start as a Palomar coach, the women’s softball team has been named First-Team All-Conference and Second-Team All-State in 2002.
Craft gives credit to her head coach and recent inductee in the NFCA Hall of Fame, Mark Eldridge. “He was a mentor and like a second father to me,” she said.
He taught her the fundamentals she needed to pursue her dreams even further, and she later attended San Diego State University (SDSU).
As much as Craft loved softball, she said her heart was in education. While at SDSU, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, and later her master’s degree in the same field at Azusa Pacific. After she graduated in 2005, she went back to Palomar to speak with Eldridge about coaching techniques.
Craft earned the title Pacific Coast Athletic Coach of the Year earlier this year, and has also been producing wins and championships for Palomar. Last season, after a slow start, the Comets rallied back and earned themselves a conference, regional, super-regional and a state championship, defeating Riverside City College 7-2 in the title game.
Even after all the accolades and accomplishments Coach Craft and her staff have earned in the past year, Craft is modest when it comes to accepting full credit for her team’s accomplishments.
“The girls deserve all of the credit for their hard work throughout the season, which made us [the coaching staff] look good,” said Craft.
Although Coach Craft prides herself on becoming a formidable coach, her main goal is to see her girls grow and gain acceptance at a four-year school. “That’s the best thing about this program at Palomar. It gives the opportunity for theses girls to earn there way into a brighter future,” she added.
According to Coach Craft, softball is more than just a game. There is a sense of responsibility in her role has a head coach. Throughout her career, Craft’s major influences, including her father and coach Eldridge, have given her the ability to teach and express her passion for winning on and off the field.
“The main goal,” she said, “is to get these girls something that is more permanent and substantial that can be used forever.”