Sliding home

Alumni returns to Texas High to continue her career in softball


Anna Haley

Former Texas High School softball stand out turned head coach Chealsea Slider claps after a player reaches second base. Slider became the head coach only days before the start of the 2023 UIL season.

Story by Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor

Unlacing her cleats for the final time, a girl who played the sport since she can remember walks away from her life as an athlete, but not away from her life in softball. 

After closing out her fifth season as a softball student-athlete at Texas A&M University-Commerce, a decision had to be made: walk away from the sport, or step into position on the other side of the life of an athlete.

Now Head Softball Coach at Texas High, Chealsea Slider chose the latter, and continued her life pursuing a career in something that she loved. 

Her success didn’t just fall into her lap, however. Through her years of hard work and hardships, good times and bad, Slider did everything she could to find success in the same place that she found her passion. 

Slider started her path in athletics in a rather nontraditional way, picking up a baseball years before she picked up a softball. Starting at the young age of six and playing until thirteen, Slider took on the challenge of proving herself and her abilities to her male counterparts. 

“It was tough at first. [The guys] looked at me like ‘oh, she’s a girl, she shouldn’t be playing’,” Slider said. “I kind of had to prove myself to everyone around, and then they kind of took me in as one of their own. Then it wasn’t ‘she’s a girl’, I was just another teammate.”

Though she faced the challenge of being the only girl on the baseball diamond and of having to transition between the two sports, Slider feels that her years in baseball went on to shape her into the softball player she would become in the future. 

“Oh, it was a hard transition, it took me like six months to learn how to even throw a softball,” Slider said. “But I do think starting out in baseball helped me in a lot of different areas. I learned my fundamentals, learned the competitiveness that softball lacked at the time. I definitely benefited from playing baseball as long as I did.”

Eventually, Slider got the hang of throwing with the new 12 inch ball, and her softball career took off from there. 

Going into her freshman year, she joined the Texas High softball team as a way to hone her skills. 

“I used high school softball as a way to fine tune some things to get ready for college,” Slider said. “I already knew when I entered high school that I wanted to try to play as long as I could. It was my way of fixing up all the little details that I needed to.”

Aside from high school play, not only did Texas High give her an outlet to do and perfect what she loved, but it gave her friendships and memories to last a lifetime. 

“I think my favorite part of high school softball were the friendships that I made. I still talk to a lot of the players I played with in high school, we talked all throughout college,” Slider said. “I still even talk to some of them now. I think the bonds I made meant the most to me.”

Throughout her high school years, Slider also played for a travel softball team, just as travel softball began to grow in popularity.
“I played for a team out of Texarkana, that was right around the time that travel softball got big and people started traveling for it,” Slider said. “That was before the [organizations] here now were a thing. I played on a little team called Tanel.”

Looking around the fun she had in travel and high school softball, they both played a role in a bigger picture. Similar to most of the athletes participating in travel athletics, Slider never lost sight of her main goal, playing collegiately. Tiger softball and Tanel helped prepare her for that goal.

Coach Slider has definitely made one of the biggest impacts in my softball career. Her ability to take this team and reignite our love for the game is something I am truly grateful for.

— Junior softball player Mollie Fisher

“I think they both prepared me in different areas. Travel ball kind of prepared me for the talent I faced,” Slider said. “High school kind of helped me figure out the leadership aspect. I knew that when I got to college I wanted to be that leader once I got older, and I think I was able to hone in on those skills.”

To get to college, Slider faced a new challenge: recruitment.

Her recruitment process wasn’t conventional, and she didn’t get an offer until the end of her senior season. 

“I didn’t even really know how to get recruited. I didn’t get a single offer until Christmas of my senior year, I was really, really behind,” Slider said. There weren’t all the resources softball players have now in Texarkana. Even when I did get my first offer, it was a [junior college], and they were only going to give me half. I just wasn’t going to do that. It’s crazy how I ended up at the school I ended up at.”

Just when her hope began to drain and her dreams began to fade, her prayers were answered. 

Through the connection of a friend, Slider accomplished her dream.

“My college coach ended up being best friends with the Arkansas High coach, and he had told him about me. I was already well into my senior season, running out of hope, and I sent an email to A&M Commerce to tell them about our game,” Slider said. “He sent his assistant coach, and the rest is history. I got really blessed with that opportunity.”

After making it to college, Commerce continued blessing her with more opportunities, memories and even blessed her with more hardships that would shape her into the person she is today. 

Among her opportunities were a few runs for the division two national championship.

“To this day, I would still say I played in the hardest conference in division two, so being able to make a run for the national championship, I think, was the coolest experience I’ve ever had,” Slider said. “We were a few games short all of my years, but just being able to have that experience and opportunity for all of those high level games was incredible.”

Stepping into the role of student-athlete on a collegiate level allows the athletes to, essentially, assume a full time job. With workouts and practices on top of school work, things can get hectic. 

“When you play a collegiate sport, it does really become a job. Not in a bad way, but it’s true. You have to learn how to manage your time,” Slider said. “I had a pretty tough major, so my schedule was hard. I would go to practice, then weights, go to class, then practice again, do homework and then go to sleep. Then wake up and do it all again the next day. You just develop a routine.”

After leaving Commerce, Slider was given another opportunity. The opportunity to return to her home, and continue being a part of a softball program. The opportunity to continue to do what she loved, just in a different form.

Slider assumed the position of assistant coach of both the volleyball and softball programs at Texas High, participating and playing a large role in both of the sports in her days as a Tiger student-athlete. 

With five years of collegiate softball under her belt, Slider felt well-prepared for the career awaiting her.

It makes a huge difference when your coach truly believes in you, and that’s what coach Slider has brought to our team.

— Senior softball player Emma Prince

“I do think I was able to learn the game from a different point of view while coaching the younger girls at Commerce to take my position when I left,” Slider said. “I was also able to watch my coaches in different situations, how they make their lineups. I was able to ask those types of questions, I think that was when I decided I wanted to be a coach.”

In the midst of her second year as an assistant coach, Slider came up with the opportunity to take on the role of head coach for the softball program

Now over half way through her season as head coach, Slider cherishes the extra time she gets to spend doing what she loves. 

“The best part of my job is getting to be around softball every single day. I never wanted to give it up,” Slider said. “I get to be around softball. I get to coach these girls and be in softball games and I love that about my job. Not a lot of people can say that they love what they do.”

Though she’s not lacing cleats or winning anymore Golden Glove awards, Slider remains doing what she loves from the opposite side of white chalked lines. 

“Softball has continued to give me every single opportunity in the world. It means so much to me, it’s more than just a game,” Slider said. “When you are able to do what you love and what’s your passion every single day, it’s indescribable, it really is.”