Auburn grad Alicia Thompson takes over Auburn Mountainview fastpitch

Auburn graduate Alicia Thompson is the new Auburn Mountainview fastpitch head coach.

New Auburn Mountainview fastpitch coach Alicia Thompson wants her team to do well on the field.

But more important, she wants her players to grow.

“The No. 1 thing I want these girls to learn is life skills as women,” said Thompson, who succeeds Dee Herren this season. “I want them to learn skills, like communication and leadership. It’s about them becoming better people, not just better fastpitch players.”

It’s a lesson Thompson learned first hand while playing third base for a struggling Auburn High team in the 1990s.

“We weren’t even postseason contenders,” she recalled. “(Auburn) Riverside had just opened up when I was a sophomore, so that kind of split everybody up.”

After graduating from Auburn in 1998, Thompson majored in math at Western Washington University. She didn’t play for the Vikings but filled the void by turning to coaching as a volunteer at Sehome High School.

“I loved that right away,” she said. “I just enjoyed it, really loved the competition. It also helped me make a decision to teach high school.”

Thompson earned her teaching certificate at Central Washington University, then got her first shot at coaching when Auburn coach Andrea McHenry put her in charge of the junior varsity team. The experience was invaluable, Thompson said.

“Coaching under (McHenry) gave me a lot of freedom to do what I wanted with the team,” she said.

In 1994, Thompson took a student teaching position at newly opened Auburn Mountainview.

Herren soon approached her to head the Lions’ junior varsity team.

After Herren retired last season, Thompson, now a math teacher at Auburn Mountainview, was an easy choice to replace him.

Just a couple games into the new season, Thompson says she’s having a blast.

“It’s been worth every stressful second. I’ve got a great group of kids,” she said. “I’m really glad that the opportunity came up for me to take over. I want to build the program and stick with it for a long time.”