Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera Coyote softball player Kaylee Dawson shares a laugh with her parents Susan and Bobby before signing her National Letter of Intent to CSU East Bay on Nov. 10.
When Madera Coyote softball player Kaylee Dawson signed her National Letter of Intent to play at CSU East Bay next year, it was a dream come true.
Dawson said she has been wanting to play at CSU East Bay since she was 12 when she went to a camp there and fell in love with the school.
“It went pretty smooth to sign with the school,” Dawson said. “My coach at travel ball is friends with their coach. He set it up and it went from there.”
With the signing Friday in the Madera High School cafeteria, Dawson looked back and knows all of her hard work is finally paying off and she can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Definitely, the work is paying off,” she said. “It took all the pressure off my shoulders. This is what I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. All those late nights getting back from tournaments and leaving at 1 or 2 in the morning makes it all worth it now. That was a big thing for my parents was to get a scholarship to school.”
Now Dawson, who helped lead the Coyotes to back-to-back Div. II Valley Championships, will be three hours away at a school she really wanted to go to.
“I really wanted to stay in California because family means so much to me,” she said. “I knew that if anything happened or I needed to be home for any reason, I can be.”
Dawson said there were a few other schools looking at her, but once the East Bay coach started talking to her, Dawson shut the other schools out.
“After I started talking to the coach from East Bay, I absolutely loved everything she had to offer and brought to the table, that was kind of it for me,” she said. “They just switched coaches, too. The other coach left and they brought this new coach in and she had a bunch of accolades. I figured if she did all that, she must be pretty good.”
Dawson overcame a tough beginning of the year and settled in to become the ace of the Coyotes’ pitching staff while also providing a big bat in the bottom half of the Coyote line up.
She ended the season with a .276 batting average with 17 RBIs and three doubles. She also led the team with 147 2/3 innings pitched with a 12-11 record while posting a 2.82 ERA and striking out 80 batters.
“She stepped up big for us last year,” Coyote softball head coach Judy Shaubach said. “She came in a difficult situation, but worked hard and did the best she could. I’m happy for her to be continuing her career. It’s nice to see whenever you dream about something come to fruition.”
“I just want to go as hard as I can and make an impression on the Coyote softball program,” Dawson said. “I want to go out with a bang.”
Dawson said she will pitch and play the infield next year.
“They said I will come in and have a huge impact on the team,” Dawson said. “She expects me to come in and take the reins.”
Dawson plans to major in kinisielogy to eventually go into physical therapy and work with athletes.
“They have a really good program,” she said. “They will work with my schedule and I hope to get all the classes I need.”
Now that Dawson signed her letter of intent, she can relax and enjoy her senior year and season.
“I expect to have a lot more fun and be more relaxed,” Dawson said. “I don’t have to worry about getting a college to like me. It’s a big weight off my shoulders.”
Dawson looks back and sees that all the hard work is paying off for her.
“I wasn’t doing it for nothing,” she said. “ It’s crazy to see how far I’ve come with everything I have gone through and how much my parents have gone through. I’m ready to head to college. I’ll get a little bit emotional when I move in and it gets real.”