Family Red Sox Connection Ties URI Softball Coaches

URI coaching colleagues Whitney Goldstein and Tori Constantin stand smiling in a softball field, Constantin holds flowers

Whitney Goldstein (left) and Tori Constantin at 2022 Senior Day. Photo: Courtesy URI Athletics

URI coaching colleagues Whitney Goldstein and Tori Constantin carry on a family tradition that began with their grandfathers at the Boston Red Sox.

History has a way of repeating itself, even if there are slight twists in the story the second time around.

Such is the case for URI softball coaches Whitney Goldstein and Tori Constantin, who, along with fellow coach Christine Akcer, are rebuilding the program in Kingston.

Goldstein is in her second year running the Rams. She hired Constantin in August 2021. Each is the granddaughter of a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer. Goldstein’s grandfather is the legendary Don Zimmer, who spent 66 years in professional baseball as a player, manager, and coach. Constantin’s grandfather, Haywood Sullivan, was part of the front-office team that hired Zimmer as Boston’s manager in 1977. Sullivan was Red Sox general manager and a minority owner of the team from 1977 to 1993.

“I’ve known the connection, but we’ve learned more since we started working together,” Goldstein says. “Sharing memories, having pictures in the office, and seeing how our moms have become friends. When you have a family history and connections through a professional league, as we do, you share a bond. You understand that you’ve grown up in a bit of a different realm. Red Sox fans can boo you one day and love you the next. We understand the deal.”

Constantin first knew Goldstein as a member of the powerhouse UMass softball teams that dominated the Atlantic 10 under head coach Elaine Sortino. From 2006–09, Goldstein led UMass to four-straight conference titles and NCAA Championship appearances. The first player in Atlantic 10 history to be both Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, Goldstein was an All-American and three-time first-team all-conference selection. Constantin’s father was a friend of Sortino’s and would often bring Constantin to UMass games.

“Growing up in New England, UMass softball was it,” Constantin says. “They were the program that everyone wanted to be a part of. I’d go to games and, when I was old enough, to camps. That’s where I remember first meeting Whitney. I saw her relationship with her coach and with my father; that’s where the idea of getting into coaching college really started.”

Constantin broke into coaching as an assistant at MIT for Brooke Kalman, who coached against Goldstein in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference while the latter was at WPI. After two years at MIT, Constantin joined Goldstein at URI.

“Watching the UMass program, you understand the championship mindset that Whitney was going to bring to URI,” Constantin says. “It was such a juggernaut of a program that I knew I’d be coming into something special. It takes someone like Whitney with the vision to take a program where it needs to go.”

To make that vision a reality, Goldstein needed to hire the right staff.

“Tori is really good at helping develop players. With her background, I knew she could handle the position and understand my philosophy,” Goldstein says. “If you are here for just softball, it’s not going to work. We care about the student-athletes as people, so I need staff who can nurture players and also gain that respect where she can be tough on the players, but also understand the balance of showing them love.

“It’s really about what type of life you want to live. Do you just want to excel on the softball field, or are you going to hold yourself to a high standard with your academics and with your relationships off the field? What are you doing every day to show that you are getting one- to five-percent better as a player, as a teammate, and as a member of your community? I was raised in a strict environment, very straitlaced. Being on time meant being early and ready to go. My grandfather didn’t live near us, but I was raised by my mom and dad, who raised me the way they were raised. It was regimented, but it was about accountability.”

Life lessons that have been passed down, generation to generation, allowing history a chance to repeat itself.

—Shane Donaldson ’99

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *