Coach Smith Leads KU Softball in to New Era
Oct. 8, 2009
The 2009-10 season has been all about change for the KU softball team. The team is different in many ways with both the new coaches and players excited for the season. Head Coach Megan Smith came from Louisiana State University where she was an assistant coach for three years and helped guide the team to three NCAA tournament appearances. She has been described as very business-like and focused when she is on the field.
Senior first-baseman Amanda Jobe said, “From day one she’s told the team we are going to work harder than we’ve ever worked before.”
Jobe said she’s already pushed herself harder than ever before and explains that the first week was rough. “We were so sore and didn’t know what to expect. But after the first week, we were able to settle in and began to see improvements almost immediately.”
Coach Smith and her staff have instilled a new confidence in the Kansas players. The coaches have challenged the team to come to practice ready to work with the mentality that Kansas Softball will win a Big 12 Championship and a National Championship.
“The first day of practice Coach Smith asked, ‘Why not us? Why can’t we be the best?” says Jobe.
The 2009-2010 team and coaches are different from last year, but in a good way. Jobe explained that Coach Smith has the team structured differently and when she says something, the players understand exactly what she means and know she will follow through.
“We have a calendar that Coach Smith goes by every day. It’s nice to know what we’re going to do every single day and we know exactly what to expect,” said Jobe.
When the players walk into the locker room before practice they see a practice plan for the day that is very detailed and followed strictly. Practices generally last about two and a half hours, but the team gets a lot of work in during that time.
“Practices don’t seem long because we are always doing something; they are very productive,” said Jobe.
KU’s attitude towards practice is very upbeat, with everyone determined to work hard and stay positive. Jobe explained, “The team has banded together well because the practices are so tough. It takes every single player to get through them. Our chemistry is great and everyone works together as a unit.”
The freshmen class has fit in well and the coaches and returning players are expecting great things from them. In KU’s fall opener, Oct. 3-4, the players were pleasantly surprised with the freshmen’s performance. Jobe says that the class has some big shoes to fill but the whole team is really excited for them. KU lost five senior starters from last year’s team, including two-time Academic All-American Val Chapple.
In this new era of KU Softball, under Coach Smith’s guidance, the Jayhawks’ first game day experience was a little nerve-racking for everyone, even the coaches.
“We were nervous because we knew it was going to be different, but by Sunday, we all felt a lot more comfortable,” says Jobe.
Off the field the new KU coaches have also altered some things. The recruiting process has been altered and Jobe believes it will change the face of the entire softball program. “The way Coach Smith has gone about recruiting is something that will really help build up the program.”
In addition, the coaches have their players broken up into teams. The teams compete against each other in various activities such as scavenger hunts, cooking competitions and much more. Jobe feels the friendly competitions will build team unity and comradery, “We are all talented, but if we aren’t working together then individual talent doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Coach Smith and her staff are eager to lead the Jayhawk softball team in to a new era. Their positive changes within the program will undoubtedly give rise to a renewed KU Softball program.
– Written by student assistant Stevie Crisosto.