For many children growing up, Little League® becomes the first introduction to the game of baseball and softball, and for University of Washington Head Coach Heather Tarr, spending time at the Little League field has helped lead to her to an incredible career as a collegiate player, professional player, and now a top NCAA Division I head coach.
“I found my favorite sport playing Little League,” said Ms. Tarr. “Watching my older brother go through it when I was at the youngest level made me aspire to do what he was doing. It’s something I look back on as such an amazing experience to have been a part of.”
Throughout her childhood, Little League was always an important part of the Tarr family household, with both her brothers playing in the same league, while her father stepped in to help out as a volunteer coach for Heather’s team. Little did she know, Ms. Tarr would also be playing alongside the future of her family as well, playing her Major Division season on the same team as her soon-to-be brother-in-law, Jeff D’Amico, with her eventual father-in-law, Tom D’Amico, as the team’s manager.
“I am forever connected to Little League through my awesome experiences that I have, and I’m married to the person I am today because of my experience in Little League,” said Ms. Tarr. “Part of the reason I wanted to marry J.T. is because of how influential his father, Tom, was in my life and how much J.T. knew about my life because of our experiences growing up together around Redmond Little League.”
Despite having the opportunity to compete in the West Regional Little League Baseball Tournament in San Bernardino, learning fastpitch softball at the teenage divisions with Kirkland (Washington) LL, and even taking home the 1993 Big League Softball World Series championship title with Kirkland LL, her favorite Little League moment came during the City Championship during her Majors Division experience in baseball.
“I was on deck and Jeff D’Amico was at bat with the bases loaded and our team leading 4-1,” said Ms. Tarr. “The other team walked Jeff to get to me, the clean-up hitter, and I stepped up and hit a grand slam. After that game, it was announced that I would be on the all-star team. That was the most amazing memory for me playing Little League.”
Following her memorable Little League career, Ms. Tarr went on to play college softball at the University of Washington from 1994 to 1997 where she was named honorable mention all-Pac-10 from 1995 to 1997, a second-team NFCA All-Pacific Region honoree in 1997, and was part of the school’s first Women’s College World Series team in 1996 where they finished second. After graduation, Ms. Tarr played two years with the Tampa Bay FireStix of the Women’s Professional Softball League before switching her focus to coaching.
Ms. Tarr spent one year as an undergraduate assistant at Washington while completing her geography degree before a five-year stint as an assistant coach at the University of the Pacific in California. A native of Redmond, Washington, Ms. Tarr returned to the Huskies as the head coach in 2005 and has gone on to become the winningest coach of any sport in University of Washington history with a 636-244-1 record over her 15 seasons. Ms. Tarr led the Huskies to a national championship in 2009, the program’s first, and has coached more than 25 All-Americans, including two-time USA Softball Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie, also a Little League graduate.
“The biggest thing throughout my entire Little League career was that I had great coaches, whether it was my dad or Mr. D’Amico,” said Ms. Tarr. “I always had people around the me that wanted the best for me and set high standards for being involved in the sport. It was always more about how you acted rather than how good you can play that allows you to play, and those were the foundations that I learned early on playing Little League and, to this day, believe those things are true.”
Because of her dedication to the game of baseball and softball, and for demonstrating the values instilled within the Little League program, Little League International is honored to enshrine Mrs. Tarr into the Little League Hall of Excellence in 2019.
“From every level of the game of baseball and softball, Heather Tarr exemplifies the values that the Little League program is founded upon and is dedicated to growing the future of the game from young Tee Ball players all the way to collegiate All-Americans,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “On behalf of Little League International, we are honored to welcome Heather to Williamsport this August and present to her the highest honor available to any Little League graduate from our program.”
Established in 1988, enshrinement in the Little League Hall of Excellence is an annual honor bestowed on a Little League graduate (or graduates) who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen profession and exemplify the values learned as children in Little League Baseball or Softball. For more information on the Little League Hall of Excellence, visit LittleLeague.org/Alumni.