By Bill Tamburrino
Some eyebrows were raised when Ramona High School Athletic Director Damon Baldwin announced that Robin Brainard and Cori McDonald would be co-head coaches on the varsity softball team next year.
“Last year there were three coaches and we all got along together and had equal input. Antoinette (Rodriguez) coached third base and made decisions on when to send in runners and when not to. Besides that we all had about equal input,” explained Brainard.
“Robin and Cori bring a lot of experience and knowledge to the plate. With them you get the best of both worlds,” said Rodriguez, who stepped down as head softball coach to accept a position as assistant principal at RHS. “Robin has a wealth of experience and Cori brings youthful enthusiasm with varsity coaching experience and college playing experience. They both are professionals as educators and coaches.”
Brainard and McDonald liked the three-coach situation so much that they have added another assistant to their staff. Julie Doria will be a varsity assistant.
All three are teachers. Brainard teaches social studies (U.S. History) and McDonald teaches math at Ramona High School. Doria teaches language arts at Olive Peirce Middle School (OPMS). She has been teaching and coaching there for 18 years.
Brainard has been coaching and teaching at the high school level for 26 years. She has been the RHS and Ramona Unified School District Teacher of the Year, and a finalist for the Teacher of the Year in San Diego County.
McDonald has been teaching for eight years and coaching for three years.
All three played sports in high school: Brainard graduated from Hilltop High School and played softball and basketball, McDonald graduated from RHS and played softball and volleyball, Doria graduated from San Pasqual High School and played softball, basketball and volleyball.
Brainard graduated from Humboldt State University and has a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University. McDonald graduated from Hope International University and played four years of varsity softball. Doria graduated from the University of San Diego where she played basketball and softball.
Sports that they have coached include junior varsity volleyball and head varsity basketball coach for Brainard, softball for McDonald and basketball and cross country at OPMS for Doria.
Brainard has sent dozens of athletes to play college softball one of which was McDonald. She enjoys taking road trips to see them play and one of her Bucket List goals is to attend a Women’s College World Series. One of her players, Mia Longfellow, has played in the WCWS.
In her three years of coaching softball at RHS McDonald has coached six players who have or will go on and play at the college level. Her number one Bucket List Goal is to coach a CIF championship team at RHS. She got to the finals in her first year as an assistant along with Brainard and Rodriguez.
Doria has sent most of those players from OPMS to RHS.
All three have similar goals and visions for Ramona High softball: to continue on the path that has been created the past two years and to win the Valley League and CIF crowns.
One little known fact about Brainard is that she coached a CIF championship team in 1987 at Marian Catholic (now Mater Dei) High School and she is a member of the Marian Catholic/Mater Dei Hall of Fame.
A little known fact about McDonald is that she has coached a state championship team in 14 and under youth softball. The team is headed to the national championship series in South Dakota this summer.
Doria is in the San Pasqual High School Athletic Hall of Fame and has coached some of the varsity softball players to two championships and an undefeated season in basketball at OPMS. She also coached Olympian Marion Jones at a basketball camp when Jones was in high school.
Brainard coaches softball because “It is a great way to connect with student/athletes. I love the game and it is still a lot of fun.”
“I coach for the love of the game and helping young ladies achieve their goals and to be a part of their journey,” said McDonald. “I remember how important my coaches were in my journey.”
“I had great coaches in high school: Lori Becker, Brad Merrill and Mike Basalo. Lori got me to help her at a volleyball camp after my senior year at San Pasqual and I got hooked,” said Doria.
The three hope to have an impact in the lives of their student/athletes.