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McGavin takes over Mercy program with lofty and long-term goals

FARMINGTON HILLS — Softball is in her blood and has been for decades.

From early childhood, through high school and into college, Sara McGavin has been immersed in the sport.

So why stop now?

“This all kind of worked itself out,” she said last week about her newest position as skipper of the Farmington Hills Mercy squad. “When I came (to teach) at Mercy last year, (Athletic Director Nancy Malinowski) asked me if I wanted to help out with the softball team. So I really spent the year just observing and learning. Then, when (former head coach Brandon Malinowski) accepted a new job, Nancy and I talked about me taking over.”

And just like that, McGavin took over.

“I knew who she was before she came here, just because of her name and knowing her dad coached at Trenton (High) for a long time,” Malinowski said. “I knew she was a successful player, and I knew she’d bring a lot of softball background to our program.”

The oldest of five sisters, all of whom played in college, McGavin starred at Trenton from 1997-2000.

She continued her career for four more years at Hillsdale College.

After teaching at Oak Park High for eight years, she accepted a position in the science department at Mercy last year, and the road to becoming head coach took on life.

“Teaching at a private school is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I don’t plan on going anywhere,” McGavin said. “I think that had something to do with me being chosen to coach. But it wasn’t a light decision on my part. With three kids, I know this is huge commitment. But coaching has always been a goal of mine.”

Just a rookie at the helm, McGavin will have plenty of experience to fall back on from those around her.

Malinowski is still with the team as an assistant, and McGavin’s father, Alex Lesko, also joined the staff.

“It’s nice to have him here to lean on,” McGavin, a Madison Park resident, said.

She steps into a nice spot, too, with a roster full of varsity veterans and some young talent ready to blossom.

Mercy finished 29-3 last season, fell in a Division 1 regional final and then brought back 11 of 14 players. That team also slammed 51 home runs, setting an MHSAA record.

“That’s something we plan to build on, having the power hitters we do,” McGavin said. “We’ll build the defense up some more and focus on executing the small things. There’s a great mix of talent here, with the veterans we have and the youth coming up. I’m very excited about it. Our eyes are set on some big goals. They are talking about winning a state title, and that’s what we’re going to work toward.”

Weather permitting.

“Nancy hired me to coach softball,” McGavin joked. “She never told me I wouldn’t see the field until April, though.”