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Robbie Harris— Let’s play ball!

Robbie Harris of the Lean Six Sigma Office coaches the Los Alamos Little League Girls Softball Team, which in 2017 won the State Championship. Robbie’s secret to success: build self-esteem, foster teamwork, and most of all, have fun.
October 31, 2017
  • Robbie Harris
  • Robbie Harris
  • Robbie Harris
“My greatest satisfaction as a coach is watching these girls mature into responsible young women. As they play softball, they learn many lessons that will carry them through life, such as becoming an effective team player, relying on others for support and encouragement, and recognizing the strength of others and how they can help bolster your own weaknesses.”

Let’s play ball!

young robbie harris

Nonfiction author Paul Dickson once wrote, “The human hand is made complete by the addition of a baseball.” From an early age Robert “Robbie” Harris of the Lean Six Sigma Office loved the feel of a baseball in his hand, but it wasn’t until the third grade that the National Pastime would invite him to join its ranks.

“I lived near Mountain Elementary School,” Robbie remembers. “I was going to play with some friends when I spotted a bunch of classmates practicing—you know, throwing the ball around. I asked what they were doing, and they said they were members of the Los Alamos Little League. I told them I wanted to play, so they sent me to their coach. That’s how it all got started.”

Playing against the Los Alamos Clowns

los alamos baseball teamThis newspaper clipping dated August 12, 1983, shows the lineup of the Los Alamos fast-pitch softball team the LM Archer’s Supply. Robbie Harris kneels at the far right.

Robbie played Los Alamos Little League Baseball up through elementary school, after which he continued to play but under different league names, such as Sandy Kofax, Mickey Mantle, and Connie Mack. As a high school freshman, Robbie was invited to fill in as a member of the men’s fast-pitch softball team—he continued to play with the team for the next ten years.

One of Robbie’s greatest memories during this time is squaring off against ace pitcher Bernard “Bun” Ryan, a member of the Pierotti Clowns. The Pierotti Clowns was the only five-person fast-pitch softball team in the nation (all other teams consisted of nine players). Formed in 1953 by Lou Pierotti, the team won 177 games and lost only 23 throughout its 25 years of existence.

“I came in at the tail-end of the sport’s heyday,” notes Robbie. “It was fairly vibrant at the time, but for some reason during the late 1990s the sport started dwindling down, with the adult fast-pitch softball league eventually going away.”

Moving from playing the game to coaching it

robbie coaching
Robbie Harris coaches his daughter Jenna on the fine points of softball. (Photo courtesy of Craig Kelley Photography.)

Robbie continued playing fast-pitch softball through college and during his tenure at Los Alamos National Bank. Eager to pass on his experience to other players, Robbie began to coach a women’s slow-pitch softball team in Los Alamos. It was during this time, in 1995, that Robbie met his future wife. The couple took a break from softball to start a family.

“I have two daughters,” says Robbie with a father’s grin. “My oldest, Lauren, wanted to try her hand at Little League T-Ball—this was in 2005. The experience did not go well—at the end of the season, Lauren admitted to me that she never wanted to play the game again.” ;

Five years later, Lauren Harris—with some encouragement from her father—tried out for the Los Alamos Little League Softball Team. This time, she found that she really enjoyed the game, so much so that it soon became her favorite sport. Excited about his daughter’s positive experience, Robbie became an assistant coach for the team. In March 2011, Robbie became the Vice President of Softball for the Los Alamos Little League, a position he retains to this day.

Taking the state championship

senior league nm champions
Robbie Harris (right) and the other coaches and team members of the Little League Senior Girls Softball Team hold a banner that declares them 2017’s Senior League New Mexico Champions.

In 2014, Robbie became as assistant softball coach for the Los Alamos High School Junior Varsity Team before becoming an Assistant Varsity Coach this past high school season. Three years later, he managed the Little League Senior Girls Softball Team, which won the 2017 State Championship.

“I was very fortunate to coach this winning team,” says Robbie. “I have been coaching these girls off and on in Little League, high school, and USSSA softball for the past five years, so I have had the opportunity to see them develop, both in terms of their skills and their ability to come together as a team.”

When it comes to coaching, Robbie has learned that giving each player quality time and opportunities to play each position are keys to success.

“You don’t want to have players standing idle, otherwise they’ll lose focus and get bored,” Robbie notes. “The key is to keep players engaged while working on fundamentals and drills for no more than 5 to 10 minutes before moving on to the next drill. As a coach, first and foremost, you should ensure that the players are developing skills throughout the season, enjoying the game, and wanting to come back and do it again.”

 robbie coaching

Robbie Harris is a Black Belt and Program Lead in the Lean Six Sigma Office under Capital Projects (PADCAP).



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the Employee Spotlight articles are solely those of the featured employees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Los Alamos National Laboratory.