Brazoswood head softball coach Laura Oltman has felt appreciation since earning her 700th career win March 7 against Clear Brook, becoming one of two softball coaches in Texas to do so.
The coach was surrounded by her current Lady Buc players, coaches and Brazosport ISD administrators to celebrate her accomplishment with the Lady Buc faithful before Brazoswood’s District 24-6A game March 10 against Clear Springs. In that game, she earned win No. 701.
It’s all appreciated for Oltman, but the humble coach does not seek the limelight — something reserved for her players and program.
In addition, it’s not so much the number she cherishes; it’s those former players who helped her get there reaching out to her to congratulate and show their appreciation for the longtime coach.
SUCCESSFUL FROM THE START
Success has followed Oltman, and she credits the supportive communities for that.
The coach spent her first eight years at Sweeny High School, including seven years as a head coach, where she accumulated 137 wins and a state title in 1996 — her second year at the program’s helm.
She led the Lady Dogs program to two state and five regional tournament appearances and six district championships.
The next step was Brazoswood, which began in 2002, and after two non-playoff seasons, the program has never looked back with Oltman leading the way.
In her fifth year with the Lady Bucs, Oltman took a 2006 team to a state semifinal, and she has created a standard since then. Oltman’s squads have made the postseason for 18 consecutive years, excluding 2020, including back-to-back Region 3 quarterfinal appearances in the last two seasons. Her teams have also fared well in district play, winning at least 10 games every season but one since 2004.
“I have coached in two softball communities, and this was a winning program here at Brazoswood when I got here, so that is definitely a part of it,” Oltman said. “My goal when I got to Brazoswood was that I was going to keep that tradition going and continue to build and I have been able to do that.”
Having that much success takes endurance and being in a
Oltman is in her 29th year as a head softball coach and 22nd at Brazoswood, racking up 560 wins for the Lady Buc program. She has withstood talent cycles, injuries to key players that could wreck a season and COVID-19, among other obstacles head coaches experience every season.
“You can’t make excuses as a coach, and I’ve always said, whatever the situation is, we are going to turn over every rock and do whatever we can do,” Oltman said. “One of my strengths as a coach is that when the team is under adversity, that’s when I do my best work.”
An example was one season when the prospect of making the playoffs did not look promising, but her team made a second-half run in district play to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.
In 2009, Brazoswood started then-District 24-5A play with a 1-3 record before ripping off eight straight wins and eventually settling for third place in the standings with an 11-4 district record. That team became an area round finalist.
In 2015, Oltman’s Brazoswood team suffered significant injuries that may have kept them from winning a district title, she said. Still, the team pushed through with a 30-win season and reached the regional championship, where the Lady Bucs lost to Katy in a three-game series.
“Teaching kids how to face adversity, learning how to compete is a big part of being successful year after year,” she said.
During an interview with The Facts following the 2021 season, when Oltman was named The Facts’ coach of the year as part of the newspaper’s All-Southern Brazoria County softball teams, Oltman said her coaching style has also evolved over the years to building relationships and teaching student-athletes how to lead instead of her being that full-time centralized leader, she said.
Those relationships mean the most to Oltman, someone who would rather have the attention put on her program and players, not herself.
Win No. 700 was on Oltman’s mind “a little bit.” As she gets older, Oltman wants to appreciate milestones like winning 700 games and not take them for granted, she said.
“Other than that, no. The important thing is the team mission,” Oltman said. “So I wouldn’t say it was a big focus, nor should it be.”
The journey has been a joy for Oltman, and she is grateful for her assistants and their support. Without them and coaching in supportive communities, she might not have reached 700.
Entering the Lady Bucs’ District 24-6A game Tuesday against Clear Falls, Oltman fields a 707-266-3 overall record, second to Guyla Smith, who has coached since 1991 at West High School. Both coaches are the only two to earn 700 softball wins in Texas, with Pearland’s Laneigh Clark fast approaching the milestone, too.
However, the wins and endurance to deal with the rigors of nearly three decades of coaching softball all comes back to building relationships.
“The kids I have worked with here at Brazoswood and Sweeny over the years have been awesome,” Oltman said. “The best gift beyond winning and winning championships that I get on occasion is when a former player sends me a message or comes back to say that playing at Brazoswood was some of the best years of her life.
“When I hear something like that, that is the ultimate for me and more important than the wins.”
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