By Maren Angus
The last time Casey Stangel was in a dugout opposite the Florida Gators, she was in Oklahoma City. She was wearing Washington across her chest, she was starting in left field and she was playing in the Women’s College World Series.
This weekend, Stangel will once again be opposite the Florida Gators but she won’t be in purple nor will she be in uniform. Stangel, is a first-year graduate intern for the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team and will be traveling to Gainesville for a three-game series.
To some, Vandy seems random for Idaho’s three-time Gatorade Player of the Year and All Pac-12 First-Team honoree but to Stangel — especially because it doesn’t have softball — it’s always been part of the plan.
The plan began to form when she was watching Vandy on television with her dad, Chris, as a kid in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“I just love baseball,” said Stangel in the tunnel at Dodger Stadium following Vandy’s game against Texas Christian. “I spent time watching how Coach (Tim Corbin) coached third base. He was so engaged every single pitch. If you sat and watched him through a game, he doesn’t take a pitch off. He’s communicating with runners and he’s stepping into the pitch. I just thought it was so cool seeing someone so active as a coach at third base.”
Stangel knew she not only had to meet Corbin but she wanted to learn from him. She didn’t know how she would ever meet him but that changed when she was a freshman at Missouri. She attended all three games of the series.
“After the Sunday game, I had to go meet Coach (Corbin) because I was a huge fan,” she said. “I went on the field, introduced myself to him and told him how much I loved his program and we talked for about 15 to 20 minutes.”
Stangel transferred to Washington her sophomore year and discovered that head coach Heather Tarr knew Corbin through a mutual friend.
“We stayed in touch and it was cool because he was familiar with Washington softball but I knew I wanted to be in baseball after college,” she said.
Around Christmas-time her junior year, she reached out to Corbin, told him she wanted to come to Vanderbilt for Grad School and asked him if there was a position on his staff for her after graduation. He told her if she could get into Vandy, she was welcome on his staff and she did.
“It’s a dream place to be when you’re done playing,” she said. “I get to learn from Coach, who in my opinion, is one of the best coaches out of any sport. I think the world of him and having the opportunity to learn from him everyday is fantastic.”
Even though her playing days are behind her, Stangel doesn’t pass up the chance to use Vanderbilt’s state-of-the-art facility. Who would?
“I will go to the cages around 10 p.m. when I think nobody else will be coming in to hit,” Stangel laughed. “Then someone will walk in and I act all embarrassed.”
A few guys on the team knew of her when she was introduced to the team. Jayson Gonzalez’ sister, Lexi, played softball at Cal State Fullerton so they knew some of the same people.
“Some of them knew I played. Some of the them think I’m like 30 years old and I’m just here,” she laughed. “(Austin) Martin asked me how old I was and I had to tell him I was 23. Maybe he thought I was younger? I don’t know but sometimes I start talking about things and they look at me like who is this girl? I don’t mind it. They’re awesome.”
In her first season as a Commodore, Stangel has been to Minute Maid Park and Dodger Stadium. Sometimes she will SnapChat or text some of her former Washington teammates from the stadiums and try to make them jealous but she’s just trying to share the moments that Vanderbilt has given her.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “These little moments. These guys don’t understand how impactful they are right now but those are the things they will remember because those are the things I remember and the things I miss. It’s cool to watch them live that.”