Holmes CC softball coach announces retirement


*Story by Steve Diffey

For the last 25 years, Holmes Community College Head Softball Coach Trae Embry has made his mark on softball both on the high school level and the community college level. He recently announced that he’ll be retiring and giving up the sport that he’s lived and breathed for a quarter of a century.

“All I have done for 25 years is coach softball,” Embry said. “I’ve enjoyed it.

“We’ve lived apart the majority of time in two years, but it’s time to go home and be with them and not be gone every weekend,” he said. “The decision of retiring was extremely difficult, and one that was made as a family. I’m content with it. I’m excited.”

In his first two seasons, his wife, Tera, and daughter, Mary Claire, drove from the Goodman Campus to Madison, where Tera taught in the Madison County school system, and Mary Claire attended classes there. The last two years, the two have lived in Eupora and transitioned to East Webster.

“Those are big things to be able to go and see,” he said. “The school here is family oriented. They don’t have a problem with you going and supporting your family. That was never a problem other than my schedule. Nothing sour in my mouth. It’s a great place.” Mary Claire plays on the volleyball team and may add tennis in the future.

Embry said he loved his time at Holmes.

“My time here has been great,” Embry said. Working with Dr. (Jim) Haffey, Sonny (Sparks), Andy (Wood), Steve (Diffey), and Susie (Jackson) has all been great. Everybody here has been so helpful. Anytime we needed something we were able to get it from our facilities to being improved, to our recruits being improved from the first year.”

He said he’s grateful for everything that has been for the softball program while at Holmes.

“The first year we got here we knew we had to add new dirt for the field,” Embry said. “That was no problem. We got that done, and everybody here is so helpful from maintenance to Quint (Raper) and the grounds to crew to Jeremy (Floyd) and the bus shop. It’s starts at the top and works its way down where everybody wants things to be good.”

“After that we were always in the phases of getting the new athletic building we got, and they told me when I interviewed we’d get Astroturf,” he said. “I didn’t know when. It came a lot faster than I expected. It’s a gamechanger. You don’t miss practice, you don’t have rainouts and don’t even have to have a tarp. The water is going to be gone and you can play. That probably is a bigger gamechanger than anything over anything we had just so we could practice.

“People probably don’t realize this but for years we drove to Madison just to go practice. Those days are gone. These kids really need to appreciate what they have because what they have is top notch from the hitting facility, weight room to our field it is all top of the line. It’s been a blessing. If I ever do coach again, I hope it’s on turf.”

In his first season in 2021, the Lady Bulldogs played with 12 players and he increased the roster to 21 in 2024. He finished his time at Holmes with 101 wins averaging 25 wins each year.

“That’s a reflection of the players. That’s probably been the best around here for me but one of the main things is the people who you work it. They say there’s no place like Holmes and that’s a true statement. Everyone here is really receptive to new people and helpful and whenever you need something they are able to be there.”

He explained how much recruiting plays into the high school to college transition.

“The main difference in high school you don’t have to go out and recruit,” He said. “Here you are out every weekend. If you are not out recruiting, you are getting behind. On the field, softball is softball. The biggest difference (in college softball) there is everybody can hit. You have to be able to slow down people. Everybody you face can hit. So that’s the biggest difference and the speed of the game.”

The Lady Bulldogs to the Region 23 Tournament last season at Jones College in his third year at Holmes.

Embry had a stellar coaching career at Neshoba Central High School winning the last seven fast pitch state titles and the last eight slow pitch state titles. The Lady Rockets won district titles in slow pitch each season and won district titles in fast pitch from 2014 through 2019. The 2018 team was No. 1 in the USA Today poll. His team produced Gatorade Players of the Year from 2014-2018.

Prior to Embry coming to Neshoba Central, he served as head coach of the slow pitch and fast pitch programs at Eupora High School winning the state title in 2005 and 2007 in slow pitch and the fast pitch state title from 2005-2007. His 2008 team was the state runner-up, was district champions from 2002-2008 and 2011 and was North Half champions 2005-2008.

Embry had an overall coaching record of 437-72 and an overall slow pitch record of 413-104. His 2020 team started the season 9-0 before the season was cut short because of COVID-19.

Embry’s personal honors include: Mississippi Association of Coaches Coach of the Year, 2006 and 2013; National Federation of High school Coaches Association State Coach of the year, 2006, 2013, 2015, 2017; District 4 Coach of the Year, 2004; MACJ Fast Pitch All-Star Coach, 2006; NEMSAP Fast Pitch All-Star Coach, 2003; MAC Slow Pitch All-Star Coach, 2011; Clarion Ledger Coach of the Year, 2005, 2015, 2018, 2019; Mississippi Prep Coach of the Year, 2017-2018; and NHSACA National Coach of the Year Finalist, 2018.

He is a member of the Mississippi Association of Educators, a member of the Mississippi Association of Coaches and a member of the Northeast Mississippi Softball Coaches Association.

“Our Neshoba record was phenomenal,” he said. “The kids are phenomenal. They eat, live, breathe and sleep softball. You had a lot of talent there, and it’s in really good hands right now.”

Embry said he doesn’t know if we’ll ever see him coach again.

“I can’t answer that,” Embry said. “I don’t know. We have some things in the works. That I don’t really know. It’d have to be a perfect situation where I am to drive from Eupora and be a reasonable deal.”

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