By Joyce Erekson
Former St. Mary’s/Curry College softball player Ariel LaRosa is moving up the coaching ladder.
LaRosa has been named the new Salem State College women’s softball coach, replacing Leanne Doviak, who had held the position since 2007. LaRosa brings two years of college coaching experience to the program.
LaRosa will take over a program that has enjoyed considerable success under Doviak, who stepped down to move to New York in order for her husband to take a position as athletic director at Alfred State College. The Vikings finished 23-17 this season. LaRosa spent the last two years as head coach of the Wheelock College (Boston) softball team. Prior to that, she was an assistant in the St. Mary’s program.
“I’m excited,” LaRosa said. “I was at Wheelock College in Boston. It was a good starting point for me. I really learned the background information on coaching, like how to fundraise and how to plan.”
LaRosa said at Salem State, she knew right away just how much the school cares about its athletic programs.
“You can tell the minute you walk in the door. You get here, and you know you’re going to a good program,” she said.
Salem State University Athletic Director Peggy Carl said (via email) that Salem State is thrilled to welcome LaRosa to the coaching ranks.
“Her playing and coaching experiences impressed the members of the search committee, as well as the student representatives who met with her. Specifically, her experience recruiting qualified student-athletes will serve the program well in the coming years as she re-focuses and reinvigorates the Viking softball program,” Carl said.
Before she began her ascent in the coaching ranks, LaRosa honed her playing skills under former St. Mary’s Coach Colleen Newbury and Curry College Coach Bruce Weckworth. She started with the St. Mary’s program as a seventh grader and worked her way up through the ranks. She always swung the bat well, earning herself plenty of time as the designated hitter, but didn’t become a regular in the field until her senior year when Newbury put her behind the plate. LaRosa took home the Catholic Central League Most Valuable Player award that year. She was also MVP of the John Holland Tournament. St. Mary’s won two state titles during her time there.
“Hitting was my ticket into the lineup,” LaRosa said.
LaRosa, who is from Saugus, went on to be a four-year starter at Curry College, only this time as a third baseman (she did play a little bit of third for the Spartans). During her college career, she took home Offensive Player and Most Valuable Player honors.
LaRosa said she learned a lot about coaching from her time playing for both Newhall and Weckworth, and she hopes to bring the lessons she’s learned from them to the players she’ll be coaching.
“I was brought up with a coach (Newbury) who was very blunt about things. She didn’t sugar coat why we lost, or why we were winning. It was the hard truth. I think I know that that’s where my coaching style comes from,” she said.
Newbury, who now coaches the Danvers High softball team, is confident LaRosa will be a good fit at Salem State (Newbury’s alma mater).
“I’m thrilled for her,” Newbury said. “She’ll bring some great enthusiasm. She definitely has a passion for the game and she knows a lot about the game.”
Newbury said LaRosa worked very hard at Wheelock the last couple of years. She said recruiting at Wheelock is tough because not a lot of kids go there who are looking to play softball at the college level. Salem State, on the other hand, does draw local kids hoping to play.
“It (having LaRosa as head coach) will be great for the kids. I can’t wait to get to a game.”