FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A baseball game can change in a split second.
As all eyes are on the ball and where it’ll go, Laurie Adkins is looking out for the player.
She’s watching from behind home plate and other times from the dugout.
“When you’re a coach you’re a leader,” Adkins said.
Adkins grew up playing baseball and softball. She’s coached for decades and even assisted the Razorback softball team, all while raising a family of her own.
“As I went and coached college softball, I would come back and umpire baseball,” Adkins said.
She’s a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother.
“I think I just become more determined to be who I really am because life keeps putting me in these situations,” Adkins said.
There were situations that made her a trailblazer like when fast-pitch softball started to die out, she didn’t fall with it. Instead, she played in a men’s baseball league for nine years.
“We won the league in the last year which was like ’96, I think,” Adkins said.
In 2015, Adkins, an umpire at the time, was inducted into the NWA’s Men’s Senior Baseball League Hall of Fame.
“Hopefully, girls look at that and they go ‘Oh look! we can play,” Adkins said.
In 2017, Adkins became the first woman to umpire a state championship high school baseball game in Arkansas.
“I didn’t see it as news,” Adkins said. “I saw it as, ‘Oh good, I get to umpire a championship game.'”
She also built the Arkansas Sports Officials Association to make sure every game has an official.
“And in that, it kind of gives me a venue to help bring more girls and women in,” Adkins said. “Whenever they approach me about it, I’m like ‘Of course you can do it! I do it!'”
There’s just not enough time, even in a baseball game, to share all the glass ceilings Adkins has shattered. In fact, you can just ask her yourself.
“It wasn’t like I said, ‘Hey, I am going to go save the world for women,'” Adkins said. “But, I kept being put in these places where I was the only woman there.”
She credits her success to her mentors, men and women who have helped open the doors for her, her kids for their support, and her dad for teaching her to be strong and to never give up even when she feels like she struck out.
“You can do things that are amazing,” Adkins said.
A message she’s passed down to her own players, who she treats like her own kids.
“When we realize that we are not so different when we realize we are all on that human spectrum, then I think we start treating each individual with respect for who they are,” Adkins said.