Jayhawk Softball Adds Two to Coaching Staff
Jan. 11, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A pair of former standout players will join the Kansas softball coaching staff as the Jayhawks prepare to open the 2012 season, head coach Megan Smith announced Wednesday.
Former Jayhawk great and current professional player with the NPF Diamonds, Brittany Hile will serve as the Jayhawks’ volunteer assistant coach this spring after completing her first semester as a student assistant coach at KU in the fall. Joining her on staff is Alicia Spack, who played at Florida before finishing the last three years of her collegiate career at Purdue. Spack will fill the director of operations role.
Hile rose to the professional ranks following a senior year that saw her hit a team-best 13 homeruns, the third most during a single-season in program history. Although her power at the plate changed many games in favor of the Jayhawks, Hile spent four years becoming a legendary catcher at KU.
Smith describes Hile’s arm as the best she’s ever seen – not just the best she’s coached. While catching for the Jayhawks, Hile threw out 48 runners attempting to steal and picked off 13 throughout her career. Now Hile, who earned the starting role as a freshman, will work primarily on getting freshmen catchers Lexi Bryant and Maddie Stein prepared, as well as senior catcher Leah Daiber.
“Brittany is extremely valuable on our staff,” Smith said. “We will obviously have her working with our catchers as she was such a phenomenal catcher for us. She’s taken that as her main job, is to get our freshmen catchers ready and is working really hard with that. She’s been a major part of our staff this fall and we’re so glad she will be with us this spring.”
Spack comes to Kansas after a two-year stint working for the Purdue Athletics ticket office as the Director of Group Ticket Sales. Additionally, Spack served as the Purdue softball team’s game manager during the 2011 season, while holding an assistant coaching position with the local high school in West Lafayette, Ind.
“Alicia has a lot of experience, playing at top-level programs,” Smith said. “She is a coach’s kid, which is good because she gets it. She knows the work that has to be put in to – not just being a Division I player – but being on a Division I staff. She seems to be very well-organized and is very much a go-getter. She wants to be a part of things quickly and has a lot of knowledge of the game. We’re excited to have her here.”
Spack spent her freshman year as a Florida Gator before transferring to Purdue to play her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. With the Gators, Spack hit .444 as a freshman and scored 20 runs before making the decision to transfer to Purdue. As a Boilermaker, Spack became a regular second baseman as a sophomore, knocking in the game-winning RBI four different times. As a junior, she displayed her abilities as a utility player, making starts in the infield, outfield and at designated player. Spack earned Academic All-Big Ten her senior season, again proving her abilities as a utility player. She finished her senior year with a flawless 1.000 fielding percentage, never missing a beat in 79 chances.
Smith isn’t kidding about Spack’s “coach’s kid” mentality. Spack is the daughter of Brock Spack, Illinois State’s head football coach. Current Kansas Athletics Director, Sheahon Zenger, hired Spack during his time as the Director of Athletics at Illinois State. Following the hire, her family became friends with Zenger, and Alicia had the opportunity to see his beliefs and values as the head of an athletic department.
“I thought that he had a great strategy of how he thinks an athletic department should work,” Spack said. “So I thought I would love to work for him and see how things work, and I love softball so it went hand in hand.”
Kansas will open the 2012 season at the Southeastern Lion Classic in Hammond, La., Feb. 10-12.