“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
— Desmond Tutu
When Tamara Corbet graduated from Coast Union in 1987, a gallon of gasoline was $1.07, Rocky Fordyce was the Broncos’ softball coach, a postage stamp was 22 cents, and Corbet was ready to put a stamp on a career as a tax preparer/ accountant — which ultimately she did after receiving her degree from Cal Poly.
Twenty-eight years later, gas is $3.50 or more, stamps are 49 cents, Corbet is the owner of a full-service tax practice in Cambria, and she just finished her third year of coaching girls varsity soccer. Yet some things remain the same: The venerable Fordyce remains the head softball coach.
Meanwhile, the entire Corbet family shares a passion for softball with Coach Fordyce: Husband Chris is an assistant coach; daughters Ani (a freshman) and Remy (a senior) are key players on the team; and Tamara is scorekeeper.
Speaking of passion, between Tamara and Chris, the couple have coached more than 40 youth sports teams (softball, soccer and basketball) in Cambria, and Tamara has served on the Cambria Youth Athletic Association (CYAA) board (as president from 2007 to 2009) for 12 years.
As for Tamara, coaching was not on her original career agenda.
“I did not even think about coming back to Coast Union and coaching. My only thought was putting myself through college.”
Little did she know in 1987 that she would one day be coaching both her daughters on the Coast Union varsity soccer team. Nor could she have predicted Remy would be the MVP last season and be named the Best Offensive Player on the soccer squad in 2015. Remy had 12 goals and 16 assists this season, and Ani had four goals and five assists, notwithstanding a lower back injury that kept her out of some games.
Tamara, who played basketball for three years and softball four years at Coast, and husband Chris did not coax their daughters into sports participation. But, Tamara recalls, “Remy definitely had a desire early to play. At 3 years old she saw a little kid running and said, ‘When do I get to do that?’ Remy started T-ball at age 4, but at that same age, Ani wanted “nothing to do with T-ball” — albeit by age 8, Ani embraced sports.
When Remy asked her parents whether she could play club soccer, Tamara and Chris were reticent because, with their busy careers (Chris is a contractor), they wouldn’t always have the time to drive their daughter to practices and to distant games. But one day, Remy called and said she got a ride to the club soccer tryouts with her friend Patty Bucio — “I’m here. Can I do it?” she asked.
Seeing that Remy was driven to compete, her parents acquiesced. Indeed, Remy has been a vital part of Coast Union’s competitive sports teams. She has played junior varsity volleyball, varsity cross country, four years of varsity soccer and three years of varsity softball at Coast. Also, Remy has coached two CYAA soccer teams and has assisted with Gehrig Kniffen for a youth basketball team.
Ani found softball to her liking and was recruited by a travel team at age 9, thanks to her pitching talent. In fact, prior to her freshman year at Coast, Ani’s pitching led the
14-and-under Coast Riptide team to a Gold Medal in the California State Games’ Junior Olympics in San Diego last summer. During Ani’s freshman year, she played JV tennis in addition to soccer and softball.
“When I first started coaching, it was really Chris who was head coach, and I would be his assistant,” Tamara said. “It was a lot of fun working with our kids. I began as a head coach in youth sports when Ani turned 8.”
While her daughters continued learning the nuances of the game this season, their mother, in her third year as head mentor, says she has “learned a lot coaching high school girls. If you let the girls know what your expectations are and give them the confidence — with positive reinforcement — that they can meet the expectations, most of them will rise to the occasion.”
Tamara’s coaching style is to “let girls know that when they have ups and downs, you leave it behind when you step on the playing or practice field.” That philosophy hasn’t always worked, but when it does work it makes “practice and games more cohesive and enjoyable for everyone.”
It’s clear that in her third year, Tamara is gaining leadership skills as a high school coach. The 2014 team scored 29 goals and allowed 69, but the 2015 the soccer team scored 53 goals and allowed only 30. Last season, her team was 6-12-2, while this season’s record improved to 9-6-2.
In an after-practice interview at the softball field March 19, Remy was asked what it was like to have her mother as her soccer coach.
“She was like any other coach except I knew her,” she said. As to which sport she prefers, without hesitation Remy said soccer comes easier than softball because “I have the passion for it.”
While her sister will be a sophomore next fall, Remy again will be a freshman, attending San Diego State University with a double major: business administration and entrepreneurship.
Asked what one thing about Coast Union she would change if she could, Ani smiled and passed on the question, but Remy said he’s get rid of the black wrought-iron fence in front of school buildings.
Her mom wasn’t asked that question, but it’s a certainty that Tamara would not want to change the ability level on her soccer team next season. To wit, she has a talented and experienced defense returning, and an offense made up of “strong players with a drive to score and follow the ball to the goal.”
Indeed, the Corbet family has helped develop strong players and continues to provide the drive young people need to compete, to develop good communication skills, and to lead healthy lives through sports.