JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State's softball team began practice last week without longtime head coach Jana McGinnis' daughter, freshman Payton McGinnis.
Payton McGinnis informed her parents over Christmas break that she no longer wanted to play college softball. Jana McGinnis said that having Payton on the team was a tough adjustment for both of them.
"It's a different dynamic, going from being her mom to being her coach," Jana McGinnis said Monday. "It was different for both of us. Payton sat us down and told us she had decided she felt she wasn't playing softball for the right reasons. She wanted to make a different path outside her mom's shadow."
Payton McGinnis graduated last spring from Spring Garden High School, which is also her mother's alma mater. Both mother and daughter helped lead state championship basketball teams at the school. Her mother was a star basketball player at JSU with her retired No. 20 hanging in the school's Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Payton signing with her mother's softball program seemed like a natural fit, but Jana McGinnis said she's perfectly fine with just being Payton's mom. Jana McGinnis said she no longer has to walk that fine line between being her daughter's coach and her parent.
"I never even coached her little teams," she said. "I always wanted her to be coached by others, and Russ (McGinnis, Payton's father) and I were just her fans."
Jana McGinnis said Payton wants to continue attending Jacksonville State as a student, and "we'll have another JSU graduate in the family."
In a post Monday on Twitter, Payton McGinnis wrote, "This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My family, teammates, and friends have been 100% supportive and I am thankful for that. JSU softball will ALWAYS be a huge part of me. I will ALWAYS be the gamecocks number 1 fan."
Payton McGinnis went through fall practice with the softball team. Three others were with the team this fall but chose not to return as well: senior outfielder Anika Barbosa, sophomore catcher Anna Hood and freshman infielder Chloe Eidson.
Barbosa had completed her undergraduate degree and left JSU to attend graduate school closer to her Texas home. Barbosa missed the past two seasons with two separate knee injuries.
Hood has worked to recover from an off-season injury and has struggled to get back to 100 percent. Eidson was a walk-on who chose not to return.