When Iyhia McMichael was first selected to play for a USA Softball team, it took a while to feel the weight of the honor. It didn’t sink in, she said, until she was given a uniform and saw the stitched “USA” on the jersey.
McMichael, who is now the softball coach at Emerson High School, had a similar feeling earlier this month when USA Softball selected her to be an assistant coach for the USA Softball under-15 team that will play in world championships later this year in Peru and Japan.
For McMichael, the honor is still sinking in.
“It’s so much bigger than me, and I just want to serve the team well,” McMichael said. “Coming back to the national team as a coach is a real full-circle moment for me.”
It’s another highlight in a softball career filled with them. McMichael, who started the Emerson softball program when the school opened for the 2021-22 school year, was a two-time All-American outfielder at Mississippi State and the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004. She was a member of the 2003 USA Softball WNT Elite Team and a two-time National Professional Fastpitch All-Star during her five seasons playing for the Akron Racers.
McMichael has been the head softball coach at several high schools, as well as an assistant coach at college softball programs such as Texas Tech. She now leads an Emerson team that doesn’t yet have any seniors but will play its first regular-season varsity game in a few weeks.
“Coming into our first varsity season, we’re trying to focus on mastery in little pieces,” McMichael said. “Once we get to the big games, the players can put those pieces together.”
McMichael will coach the USA Softball team at the U-15 Women’s Pan American Championship in Lima, Peru (April 1-8) and the Utsugi Cup in Takasaki, Japan (June 2-4). Coaching at the Pan American Championship will require McMichael to miss two of Emerson's District 10-4A games this season, but McMichael hopes what she learns as a USA Softball coach will make her a better coach at Emerson.
"The relationships with the kids keep me young and the high school kids are my people," McMichael said with a smile. "The things that I learn I can bring back to them."