from left: Coach Jerry Ng, Chai Yi Ann (current Team Singapore softball athlete) and Mr Goh Yong Hang
On paper, he might appear to be an ordinary softball coach. Yet in the eyes of his students, Jerry Ng is an inspiration, a mentor and so much more.
The 67-year-old former Team Singapore athlete fell in love with the sport at the tender age of 16. He trained hard and successfully passed national trials in 1972. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
“My best year was 1976 at the ASEAN Softball Tournament in Malaysia. I was named the top batter and Singapore was second in place! That year, I was very good,” he recalls fondly of his athletic achievements.
Still, it wasn’t till we started talking about his coaching did the sports pioneer start to swell with pride.
After retiring from the field, Jerry answered his true calling. He started off as a coach for the National Girls Team and went on to inspire the lives of many.
One of those individuals was Mr Goh Yong Hang, Ng’s current assistant coach at River Valley High School.
Goh was only a student in Hwa Chong Junior College when he first trained under Jerry, known to most in the local softball scene as Coach Jerry. After dropping out of the national team due to injury, Goh decided to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.
“He is the reason why I teach,” said Goh. “I started to help out coach Jerry and I realized that I can handle kids. Being a teacher was a way that I could do softball professionally and educate at the same time.”
It wasn’t long after that the student-mentor duo was pitted against each other in the 2004 C-Division finals. Goh’s Catholic High team triumphed over Coach Jerry’s team, ACS(I).
When his former coach walked over to congratulate him, Goh said, “Hey coach, you should be proud of yourself. I applied everything you taught me.”
Seven years later, Goh was offered an opportunity to join River Valley High School. He made sure to extend his invitation and roped Coach Jerry in, resulting in what has now been a fruitful four-year partnership.
Having coached seven teams – two of which were division champions, and nurtured several Team Singapore athletes, Coach Jerry shows no signs of stopping.
A fan of sports science, Coach Jerry keeps up with the latest developments and applies them in his training methods.
His regard for the team and his players is not always obvious as a result of his stern exterior, but his passion for softball was always evident to his pupils.
“On the field, he is especially fierce. I can see his passion. There was once, he came back after an eye surgery in just two weeks even though he had a 21 day MC,” said Chai Yi Ann, a current Team Singapore athlete training under Coach Jerry and Mr Goh at River Valley.
There is a single philosophy he instills in every team he mentors – to never give up. Faced with a disappointing performance or a difficult student, the fatherly old-timer believes in always putting up a good fight.
When asked if he had any intention to stop playing softball, the hardy 67-year-old laughed and said “I love coaching. I love kids. How can I retire?”