In the classroom, on the softball diamond, or at the head of the Trojan Marching Band Trombone section, Amelia Arnold always made it a point to lead by example. She is, as East Lansing High School softball coach Jeff Lampi likes to say, a field general.
By that he means Arnold’s sense of timing – knowing what to say when a teammate needs a lift – and her composure (“she doesn’t let her emotions get the best of her, and she’s not going to overreact in key situations”) are two important qualities that every coach would like to see in an athlete.
Arnold, a 2020 ELHS graduate and the Trojans’ starting catcher for the past four seasons, resembled an assistant coach in that Lampi allowed her to call timeouts when she thought the defense needed to settle down or when she thought the pitcher could use a breather to regroup.
“She’s the anchor of the team, in the most important position on the field,” Lampi said. “She’s soft-spoken yet her actions speak loudly.”
Despite the cancellation of her senior season, Arnold will have one more chance to wear the Trojan blue-and-white uniform July 8 when she participates in the 39th annual Mid Michigan High School Senior All Star Softball Game at Ranney Park near the Frandor Mall. Arnold will play for the South All Stars in the 8 p.m. game, along with fellow senior Ellie Myron.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Arnold said. “Of course, I was also looking forward to being a captain my senior season. Plus the fact we had a couple of very promising freshmen who looked like they were ready to contribute in a big way to the varsity team.”
Lampi said Arnold’s dedication to off-season weight training and conditioning – which began in late November – inspired her teammates.
“Over the past two seasons, most notably this year, she was the most outspoken leader in the weight room during off-season conditioning,” Lampi said. “We hit the weight room harder than ever this past year, and a lot of that could be attributed to the way she encouraged her teammates to be there three days a week after school. She and a couple of the other girls were really gung-ho about getting stronger.”
Arnold’s strength as a catcher centered on her ability to build relationships with her pitchers so that they were thinking alike on pitch selection and placement, as well as her knack for interacting with umpires and knowing her opponents’ tendencies.
Arnold intends to study psychology at Alma College when classes begin August 20.
“It’s a subject I’ve been interested in for about five years now,” said Arnold, who also earned an Alma College music scholarship after having auditioned for the band director there.
“Amelia is an incredibly dedicated student and musician,” ELHS band director David Larzalere said. “As a trombone player, she has contributed in the Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Bands, and Symphonic Orchestra Wind Section – as well as participated in the MSBOA (Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association) Solo and Ensemble Festival for several years. As a student leader she led the Trojan Marching Band’s Trombone section and distinguished herself as a truly responsible and reliable student.”
A four-year Academic All State honoree, Arnold had perhaps her best statistical season as a sophomore in 2018 when she batted .418 (38 base hits in 91 at-bats) and was a unanimous all-conference selection in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue division.
Arnold’s mother, Lisa, played softball at Alma College and was also an assistant coach with Lampi at ELHS.
“She’s a good coach,” Amelia said, “and she wasn’t afraid to call me out at practice when I did something wrong.”
Which wasn’t very often, Lampi said.
“We try to teach the kids to learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on it, get better … every position is going to make an error,” he said. “It’s how you react. Amelia showed time and time again that she learned and was able to move on. That doesn’t always happen with everyone.”