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Meet the team

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emily johnson

Head Instructor

Emily is the Backstop's founder and fearless leader! She aims to develop confidence and grit in her lessons and players (feel bad A$$, play bad A$$) in hopes of elevating the game of Softball in New England. Emily has played softball her whole life and finished her collegiate career in 2013 earning RIC Softballs MVP award. Not only was she a pitcher in college, but she also was a leader in the Anchorwomen's lineup making the Little East Conference team as a DH her freshman year. Since college, Emily has been coaching travel softball for the Waves for almost a decade. In addition to travel ball, she has coached high school teams in both assistance coach and pitching coach roles. Emily has given private hitting and pitching lessons for nearly a decade and has seen the sport evolve over the years. She brings innovative drills and techniques to her lessons that allow players at any level to achieve success. Her focus is on players grasping the concepts and truly understanding the "how" and "why" of player movements. Her degree in Elementary Education allows her to differentiate lessons and cater each lesson to that specific player.

Emily is the Backstop's primary instructor for pitching and hitting lessons.

Favorite color: Yellow 

Favorite food: Mexican (tacos are amazing!) and Seafood 

Favorite Quote: "I never lose, I either WIN or I LEARN." 

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Zeena barbarita

General Manager

Zeena keeps The Backstop running. She may not always be in the forefront (hiding out in the office) but she is an extremely intricate part of Backstop's success. Not only is she a technology wizard, but she also has a ton of softball experience having coached 10+ years and also playing collegiately for Salve Regina. Anything backstop related Zeena has the answer for you! 

Favorite color: Purple 

Favorite food: Chinese

Favorite Quote: "It's not the will to win that matters-everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." Paul Bear Bryant

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Yesenia Evaristo

Pitching, Hitting, and Fielding Instructor 

Yesenia is originally from Bethel, Ct. She holds her high school strikeout records; during her time at Bethel, she was an All-State athlete (2 years), All-Conference, All-Conference, All-Division athlete. Yesenia also pitched for the USA team in Spain, pitching the Valencia, Madrid, and Barcelona teams. In the year 2022, she will be inducted into the Bethel High School Hall of fame. 

 

She went on to be a scholarship athlete at Southern Connecticut State University. She accomplished a lot being a pitcher with many strikeouts. Yesenia was also Connecticut Army National Guard/Southern Connecticut State University Athletes of the Week. 

 

After college Yesenia went on to be a private pitching instructor for over 30 young athletes in CT, she is the Head coach for the CT Impact 16U Regional Showcase team and coaches at Cranston High School East. 

 

Yesenia is a behavioral therapist transitioning her role into a special education teacher for the severe and profound. She is finishing her Masters at Grand Canyon University, being a part of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. 

Favorite color: Pink 

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite Quote: "The five S's of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit, but the greatest of these is spirit."-Ken Doherty

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Crista San antonio

Hitting and Fielding Instructor

Crista spent 4 years at Providence College from 2016-2020 as a skillful infielder. She studied Elementary and Special Education with a minor in Business Administration. She is taking her 5th year to continue her career with the Friars while completing a master’s degree in Higher Education. After learning the middle infield positions her freshman year of college, it landed her a starting position at second base. Through her time at Providence College she earned the Helen Bert award her senior year in honor of the Former Associate Athletic Director for her hard work on the field and in the classroom. She also earned a spot on the Big East All-Academic team in 2019 and 2020. Crista has a passion for growing the game of softball and hopes to instill her passion into every player she works with.

Favorite Color: Blue 

Favorite Food: Pizza

Favorite Quote: “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

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Ally Muller

Pitching Instructor

Ally has played softball ever since she was young and has grown such a love for the game. She is originally from New York and played for the Empire State Huskies travel organization. In high school she was named to the All-Section and All-State teams as well as being named Pitcher of the Year in 2017. In college, Ally was a 4 year starting pitcher at Adelphi University in Long Island, New York. There she played softball while earning a degree in psychology and elementary education. She appeared in 4 NCAA DII Regionals and was named a NFCA All-American and a NFCA Academic All-American. Ally has been a pitching instructor and has coached at the travel ball level since 2021. Her focus is for players to really understand the why behind what they are doing and for players to grow a love and passion for the game. Currently, Ally is a 3rd grade teacher in MA. She is really excited to be able to share her love for the game with other athletes. 

Favorite Color: Purple

Favorite Food: Mexican

Favorite Quote: “Success is no accident. It is hardwork, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

- Pele

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Lauren Packer

Hitting & Fielding Instructor

Lauren played travel ball from age 11 with elite programs including Rhode Island Thunder. She was a 4 year starter at Manchester High School, in Manchester CT where she won All Conference and All State honors, leading her team in both batting and fielding categories. She was awarded Manchester High School’s female athlete of the year. During her junior year of high school, she was recruited to play for the Ireland National Softball team and has played in the World Championships, European Championships, and the European Olympic qualifier as a catcher and first basemen. In 2019, Lauren helped lead the team to a second finish in the U19 European Championships in Italy and third in the U21 Championships in Slovakia. 

Lauren has spent the last four years playing for Salve Regina University as a catcher and utility player, playing her senior season at first base. She holds a record for highest fielding percentage and was awarded all conference while playing for the Seahawks. Lauren hopes to share her knowledge of situational ball with younger players so they are able to make quick decisions in game time scenarios.

Favorite color: Blue 

Favorite food: Tacos & Crab Rangoons

Favorite Quote: “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t” - Jerry Rice

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Katelyn Sykora

Hitting & Fielding Instructor

First picking up the game of softball at age 10, Katelyn earned All-State honors and was an Honorable Mention to the All-ECC Team while at Waterford High School. Following this, she played 4 years at Rhode Island College as she studied Elementary Education. As a long time short stop Katelyn earned a starting position on the RIC Team her freshman year. Working hard throughout her four years, she was able to put herself on the leader board for putouts at RIC. Katelyn was also name First Team All-Little East during her tenure there.

 

Currently, Katelyn is a kindergarten teacher in RI. She loves to continue to teach the game of softball by giving lessons and coaching a 16u RI travel team for Waves Softball, which she has done since 2017. 

Favorite color: Purple 

Favorite food: French Fries

Favorite Quote: “Strive for greatness, not perfection."

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Elisabeth Berard

Hitting & Fielding Instructor

Elisabeth is originally from Massachusetts and has had a strong love and drive for sports ever since she was young. Elisabeth grew up playing both softball and ice hockey competitively. Elisabeth attended Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Ri where she was a starter for Mounts varsity hockey and softball teams. She then went on to further her athletic career in high school by attending the Pomfret School where she was a captain and starter for both Pomfret’s varsity hockey and softball teams. During this time, Elisabeth played middle infield and was a left slapper for the New England Phoenix and East Coast Force travel organizations. Elisabeth went on to study psychology and elementary education while playing Division 2 softball at Adelphi University on Long Island, New York. There she was a four year starter as an outfielder and a lefty slapper. Elisabeth was an integral part of the defensive lineup in the outfield for Adelphi as well as a crafty lefty slapper offensively. During her time at Adelphi, Elisabeth won 2 NE10 conference championships, appeared in 3 NCAA Regionals and 1 NCAA Super Regional. After graduating college, Elisabeth found a love and developed a passion for giving back to the game. She became a private hitting and defensive instructor while head coaching a youth travel organization. Since then, Elisabeth has had head and assistant coaching experiences at the travel ball level. Currently, Elisabeth is a middle school special education teacher and the head coach of the JV softball team for the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District in Massachusetts. She is excited to share her passion and love for the game while being a mentor for young female athletes. 

Favorite color: Blue 

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite Quote: “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” -Colin R. Davis

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Alexis Boyce

Hittin, Fielding, & Catching Instructor

Alexis grew up in Wolcott, CT where she started varsity all 4 years of her high school career both behind the plate and at third base. During this time, she earned All-State, All-Conference, All-Academic, as well as team MVP recognition for her performance. 

Alexis chose to continue her education and softball career at Rhode Island College. While pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry, Alexis landed a position for the Anchorwomen as the starting catcher for her 4 years. In her senior year at RIC, she could be found on the Little East Conference leaders board for multiple offensive categories, including home runs, slugging percentage, OPS and more. Her offensive statistics and defensive performance earned her Second Team All-Little East Conference in 2023. 

Alexis aims to help the next generation of softball players advance both their physical and mental game, allowing for them to grow into well-rounded, successful players. 

Favorite color: Green

Favorite food: Nachos

Favorite Quote: "Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up"

-Robert Schuller

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