Gina Papasadero Aman (Franklin, 1997)
PIL Hall of Fame Members of the Month Gina (Papasadero) Aman

Gina (Papasadero) AmanGina (Papasadero) Aman

Gina Papasadero Aman (Franklin, 1997)

April 2023 ~

It’s hard to blame Gina (Papasadero) Aman’s (Franklin, 1997) dad for misjudging his daughter back when he had an urgent need for a softball player and just needed someone who could hold a glove and fog a mirror. Sure, he was asking for her help, but up to that point Gina had provided no indication she was a diamond in the rough or on the diamond.

And anyway, even though his motive was just to avoid a forfeit, had he not asked Gina to stand in, who knows if she ever would have taken a swing at the game she would wind up devoting much of the rest of her life to?

You be the judge…

“When I was about 12, my dad was coaching a Little League softball team and needed an extra player one game,” Gina recalls. “I had two younger sisters who were playing softball, but I was a dancer and I loved cheer. I was very girlie but I thought, sure, I’ll try it. What can it hurt?”

Coach Dad was skeptical.

“I remember Dad telling me, ‘The minute you break a nail, you’ll be a prima donna.’”

Imagine the father/daughter surprise when Gina wound up being “pretty good” at the sport and quickly fell in love with it. The fact she could play it without giving up either dance or cheer made it even more appealing.

Gina would excel at dance, cheer and softball over the course of four stellar years at Franklin. She was a four-year letter winner in all three sports, earned All-PIL in cheer as a senior and, as a catcher, made the All-PIL softball team as a sophomore, junior and senior while being named Honorable Mention All-State as a sophomore and Second Team All-State as a junior and senior.

As for how well her father’s prima donna prediction held up through all those years, Gina has a definitive answer. “I chew my nails, so there were never any to break,” the 2013 PIL Hall of Fame inductee says with a laugh.

No doubt they got a workout during the PIL championship game Gina’s junior year. She remembers the weather being so bad that spring the Franklin team had to travel an hour east to play several games in Hood River, including the championship against Marshall. “We lost by one run in extra innings,” she says. “It was devastating.”

The weather and results got brighter her senior year, when Franklin beat Grant to claim the PIL crown the team narrowly missed out on the previous year. “I was playing against my best friend. Being able to compete against her and beating Grant is one of my best high school memories,” she says.

Gina says her favorite high school memory, though, came not from softball but from dance, when the Franklin team placed fifth at state, the school’s best performance in 35 years.

After high school, Gina was offered the opportunity to play softball at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma but, wanting to stay closer to home, she caught on with, and caught for, Concordia College. “I wanted to major in elementary education, and they had a good program. So, it seemed like a good fit,” she says.

Gina played at Concordia for two years. Then in 1999, after her coach Paula Politte retired at the end of her sophomore year, Gina received a call from Teri Mariani, who coached Portland State softball for 29 years and would later earn a place in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

“After high school, six of my teammates from travel ball went to PSU. I wanted to go there too, but at the time I was not the catcher Teri wanted. Now I had the opportunity to go where I wanted to go all along and play with the girls I’d played with forever. It was a no-brainer.”

Gina had been thinking about coaching since high school. Every coach she had played for had served as a positive role model, especially current Jesuit coach Jim Speciale, who then was coaching Lincoln and Gina’s travel team.

“He gave his heart and soul to coaching,” she says. “I always appreciated the time and dedication he and all my coaches put into the game I love so much. So, I’d been thinking for a long time about being a coach. I didn’t know at what level, but I wanted to coach and give back to the sport.”

Consider that mission well accomplished. Today Gina lives with her husband and two children in S.E. Portland, near the site of her high school exploits. Her son, a junior at Franklin, competes in football and track. Her daughter is an 8th grade softball player.

By day, Gina’s the business operations analyst for PIL Athletics, a position she transitioned to after working with children with special needs for 14 years in Portland Public Schools’ special education department. After hours, Gina, is back at Franklin, where she has coached the softball team since 2002, winning five league titles and two PIL Head Coach of the Year honors.

While titles and honors, including her PIL Hall of Fame induction, are awesome, Gina says, it’s the chance to work with youth, make a difference in their lives and, with luck, watch them go on to make a difference in the lives of others that drives her.

“A couple of my former players are finishing up playing in college now, and some are coaching youth with me and looking to become future softball coaches,” says Gina, who after college played fastpitch softball for several years. “I coach because I love it and because I love being a positive influence on young women. You really feel good about what you have done when you have kids around you who want to give back and do something similar to what you are doing. That, to me, says a lot about a coach and is what makes me really proud.”

~ Profile written by Dick Baltus (Wilson, 1973)


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