WCWS Springboard to Coaching
A great many current and former college coaches have performed as players in the WCWS.
According to a year by year analysis of every WCWS roster since 1982, Kelly Inouye starred on a national championship team and coached a WCWS champion, both with UCLA. Before the WCWS era, Sue Enquist starred on a national championship team and coached UCLA to the WCWS title. Heather Tarr played in the WCWS, and returned to coach the national champion Huskies.
Connie Clark pitched for national champion CS Fullerton, and later coached Texas at the WCWS but did not win. Rhonda Revelle starred for Nebraska, the team she now coaches.
Other former WCWS players who later coached in the World Series include Teresa Wilson, Washington.
Fascinating to look back and see coaches who played, and remember some great games in which they participated.
To break down the list, Spy focused on decennial teams starting in 1982.
In the 1982 championship game, UCLA defeated Fresno State 2-0. Future coaches on the field that Series included (UCLA) Richardson, Vecchione, Compton, Winsberg, and Doom; (Nebraska) Revelle and Wegmann; (ASU) Bristow; (CS Fullerton)Van Wyk and L. King; (Creighton) Hesse; (Fresno State) Vilche.
We decided to stay with the decade focus, even though many coaches emerged in the in-between years. Eg, 1983 had Pam Newton, Terry Schweikert, Teresa Wilson, Barbara Young, Gay McNutt, Shan McDonald.
The 1992 rosters included: (Arizona Wildcats) Susie Parra, Laura Espinoza, Debby Day, coach Mike Candrea; (Cal) Michelle Granger and coach Diane Ninemire; (UCLA) Kelly Inouye; DeDe Weiman, Lisa Fernandez, Kathy Evans, Jennifer Brundage, and coaches Sharon Backus and Sue Enquist; (U Mass) Holly Aprile; Florida State was coached by JoAnne Graf, Fresno State by Margie Wright. UCLA defeated Arizona 2-0, both runs bottom 7th on a home run by Brewster.
The 2002 Series, memorably won by Cal 6-0 over Arizona, is producing some coaches. From UCLA, Keira Goerl and Stacey Nuveman; Michigan’s Jessica Merchant and Nicole Motycka, Jenny Gladding from Arizona, and from ASU Erica Beach, Kara Brun, Kirsten Voak,. That Series was especially notable for the high power coaches: Diane Ninemire from Cal; Mike Candrea from Arizona; Patty Gasso from Oklahoma, Rhonda Revelle from Nebraska, Carol Hutchins from Michigan; JoAnne Graf from Florida State; Linda Wells from ASU; and Sue Enquist from UCLA.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention some other Series players who became coaches (at some level), starting in 1982: Cindy Bristow, Rhonda Revelle, Wegmann, Dot Richardson, Gina Vecchione, Tracy Compton, Debbie Doom, Hesse,Vilche; Pam Newton, Leslie King, Terry Schweikert, Gay McNutt, Shan McDonald, Barbara Young, Stacy Winsberg; Shawn Andaya, Barbara Young; Michelle Gromacki, Lori Sippel, Roni Deutch, Chenita Rogers, Julie Smith, Carie Dever; Julie Standering, Michelle Delloso, Kathy Matthew, Leigh Ross, Penny Siquieros, Kristy Howard, DeDe Weiman, Lisa Fernandez, Michelle Gardiner, Kim Maher, Suzie Parra, Laura Espinoza, Debby Day, Michele Granger, Rachel Lawson, Holly Aprile, Kathy Evans, Jennifer Brundage, Leah O’Brien, Laura Espinoza, Pat Conlan, Marla Looper, Alyson Habetz, Kelly Howard, Nancy Evans, Laura Berg, Kim Ward, Stephanie DeFeo, Kathryn Gleason, Maureen Davies, Kaci Clark, Amie Stewart, Lori Osterberg, Eve Gaw, Sara Pickering, Danielle Henderson, Stacey Nuveman, Amanda Scott, Crissy Buck, Courtney Scott, Lacy Prejean, Lindsay Chouinard, Jennifer Spediacci, Jenny Gladding, Jessica Bashor, Britni Sneed, Lisa Carey, Dana Sorenson, Jessica Allister, Keira Goerl, Tairia Mims, Jocelyn Forest, Erica Beach, Kara Brun, Kirsten Voak, Jessica Merchant, Nicole Motycka, Kelsey Kollen, Stephanie Van Brakle, Alicia Hollowell, Lindsay Gardner, Cat Osterman, Caitlyn Benji, Tia Bollinger, Kristen Hobbs, Lisa Dodd, Kristie Fox, Emily Friedman, Kaitlin Cochran, Angela Tincher.
Spy stopped reading rosters after 2006. Admittedly, some players in earlier years were later assistant coaches at some competitive level, but the NCAA fact book only lists head coaches.
Similarly, some recent players are being mentioned as possible candidates for current vacancies, and Spy has been asked questions, but Spy does not print gossip or rumors.
Rambling through these rosters also brought memories of coaches. How many remember that Jo Evans, while not a player has the distinction of having brought two different teams to the WCWS: Utah Utes and Texas A&M? Or, that Lu Harris coaches Southern Mississippi in the WCWS before taking the position at Georgia, and coached them to the big show? Similarly, Gayle Blevins brought Indiana to WCWS twice before fielding four Iowa teams here. And, Joyce Compton was at the helm of the 1983 Missouri team in WCWS, before bringing South Carolina here twice. Did you know that ASU has been coached in the WCWS by four different coaches? Many people know Dee Abrahamson vis NCAA rules committee; she also coached the Northern Illinois Huskies to the 1988 WCWS; name one of her players.
Do you remember when WCWS was 2 and out? That ignominious fate befell Adelphi, Arizona in its one appearance under Larry Ray, Illinois-Chicago, Kent State, Missouri (1983), Northern Illinois, Oregon State, Toledo, Utah (1985), Utah State, Virginia Tech, Washington (2004), Oklahoma State (2011).
Today, with regionals and super regionals, the WCWS final draw favors the power conferences. All of the teams were in the USA Softball Top 25.
- Spy first reported on the WCWS in 1996. During the 1980’s into the 90’s, Spy was in other parts of the world, sometimes under less than pleasant circumstances. Thus, we may well have missed some assistant coaches who moved up from the player ranks. The WCWS record book does not identify assistant coaches, so we worked from memory and Spy files. Our apologies to anyone we failed to mention.
- Not least, this effort brought back memories of many games and individual efforts. Also made us wonder what some of these players are doing today.