AUGUST 9 2010 UPDATE
LOOPER NEW HEAD COACH AT IOWA
IOWA CITY, IA – University of Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta announced today that Marla Looper has been hired as head softball coach. Looper replaces Gayle Blevins, who retired June 17 after a 23-year career at Iowa.
“I am extremely excited and honored to be blessed with the opportunity to lead the Hawkeye softball program,” Looper said. “The University of Iowa represents a standard of academic and athletic excellence that is second to none. I look forward to the challenge of leading our student-athletes and helping them become young women who can make a difference on our campus, in the state of Iowa, and nationally.
“We will meet and exceed the expectations on the field and in the classroom,” Looper added. “We will build on the strong foundation laid by Coach Blevins – a true pioneer in the world of women’s athletics – by settling for nothing other than our best each and every day. I would like to thank Gary Barta and the rest of the administration for this opportunity to join the Hawkeye family.”
Looper comes to Iowa after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Texas for the past 11 seasons (1999-2010). Looper helped lead the Longhorns to three College World Series appearances (2003, 2005 and 2006) and nine NCAA Tournament berths. She also helped guide Texas to back-to-back Big 12 regular season and tournament championships in 2002 and 2003 along with regular season championships in 2006 and 2010.
Looper served as Texas’ pitching coach from 1999-2005 and mentored softball great Cat Osterman to the USA National Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Texas’ pitching staff led the nation in earned run average in three of Looper’s final four years as pitching coach, while Osterman led the country in 2003 and 2006 in both earned run average and strikeouts per seven innings. In 2006, Osterman set an NCAA record with a 15.4 strikeouts per seven innings mark and also led the nation as a freshman in 2002 with 12.7 strikeouts per seven innings. Osterman won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
As an assistant at Texas, Looper was a part of a staff that was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Coaching Staff of the Year in 2002-03 and the Speedline/NFCA Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year in 2005-06.
Looper held numerous responsibilities in her 11 years in Austin. In addition to her pitching coach duties from 1999-2005, Looper was also in charge of daily workouts and game decisions and assisted with both the offense and defense. From 2006-10, she took over Texas’ defense and was the offensive first base coach.
Looper was an assistant coach at the University of Kansas from 1996-99, where she served as recruiting coordinator and pitcher/catcher coach. She helped the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 1999.
Prior to her stint in Lawrence, Looper was a pitcher/catcher coach at Iowa State from 1995-96.
WISCONSIN NAMES YVETTE HEALY
MADISON, Wis. – Yvette Healy, head softball coach at Loyola (Chicago) since 2004, has been named the head softball coach at Wisconsin, Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez announced Saturday.
“Yvette Healy has proven herself to be a winner both as a player and a coach,” Alvarez said. “That parallels what we are looking to accomplish here at Wisconsin. We’re excited to have her on our staff and we welcome her to the Badgers.”
The 2007 Horizon League Coach of the Year, Healy guided the Ramblers to a top-four conference finish in every season she was at the helm. She has coached four NFCA All-Mideast Region players over the last four seasons, and the team set the single-season school record for batting average (.292) in 2010. Healy’s team also set single-season Loyola records for stolen bases (116) and home runs (37) in 2009.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the University of Wisconsin family,” Healy said. “The UW athletic department has a world-renowned legacy of winning on a national stage and in the Big Ten. I am thrilled to partner with the inspirational leadership team of Barry Alvarez, Shawn Eichorst and Terry Gawlik to bring Badger softball to national prominence.
“The nationally-ranked academic degrees, athletic facilities, financial support and family-atmosphere make Wisconsin a perfect fit for the nation’s most talented softball student-athletes. My husband Shawn and I feel extremely fortunate to raise our daughter Grace in Madison, one of the safest, friendliest and most beautiful towns in the country.”
As Healy was winning coach of the year honors in the Horizon League in 2007, the team was capturing the conference title with a 14-5 record. Pitcher Amy Solava was also named the league’s pitcher of the year, just the third player in school history to earn the award.
Off the field, Healy was instrumental in the team’s community service participation. She was a part of numerous campaigns to give back, including the Strike Out Cancer Fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a team canned food drive and the Shamrocks for Kids Campaign. The team was given the 2007 Horizon League Community Outreach Award.
In addition, Healy served as a mentor for the Girls in the Game program as well as at the Misericordia Home for Mentally and Physically Challenged.
Healy’s teams have also excelled in the classroom. The 2010 team was the recipient of the 2010 NCAA Academic Performance Program APR Award, while nine players in her time were named Academic All-District by ESPN the Magazine and 25 were chosen as Scholar Athletes by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
“Yvette Healy is the perfect fit for Wisconsin,” DePaul softball coach Eugene Lenti added. “She has everything you’re looking for in a head coach with her leadership skills as well as her experience. She’s a talented offensive coach, who loves to be aggressive, executing hit and runs, squeezes, etc. She’s also a great recruiter and family-oriented person who understands what it takes to be a successful student athlete, being that she was an All-American herself.”
She took over as head coach at Loyola in July of 2004 after spending three seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, DePaul. While with the Blue Demons, Healy coached five All-Americans as the team won the Conference USA title in 2003 and 2004 to make the NCAA tournament.
A two time All-American and three-time Academic All-American as a player, Healy ranks second on the DePaul single-season chart with a .424 batting average and is the school’s all-time leader with 102 stolen bases. In her senior campaign in 1999, Healy led the Blue Demons to a school-record 54 victories, an NCAA Regional Championship and the College World Series as the team wrapped up the year ranked third in the nation. She earned All-Mideast Region honors on three occasions as well.
Prior to her coaching career, Healy worked for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox Academy as Director of Marketing.
Healy earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from DePaul in 1999 and her master’s in secondary education and English from DePaul in 2007.
Healy has rounded out her first Badger coaching staff, choosing Randy Schneider and Tracie Adix (ODD-ix) to be her assistants, Healy announced Monday.
Schneider served as the head coach at Valparaiso for the past seven seasons, leaving as the program’s all-time winningest coach. The Crusaders enjoyed winning seasons in each of the past four years and won 20 or more games in six of Schneider’s seven seasons after reaching the mark just three times in the program’s first 22 years.
Janelle Breneman Joins Gamecock Softball Staff
COLUMBIA, S.C. – (Press Release) University of South Carolina softball head coach Beverly Smith hired her first assistant coach today, and it's someone with whom she is very familiar. Janelle Breneman will follow Smith from North Carolina to Columbia.
"I am thrilled for our softball program to have a coach with Janelle's exceptional playing and coaching experience join the staff," said Smith. "After working with her for the past six seasons, I have seen firsthand the individual improvement of players under her direction. Janelle is a consummate professional. She brings a wealth of knowledge and a competitive drive to the field everyday, while her personality and disposition make it a pleasure to work with and play for her. I am eager to introduce Coach Breneman to the Gamecock softball players and community."
"I am very excited about the opportunity to coach at the University of South Carolina," Breneman commented. "I welcome the challenge in restoring the winning tradition of the softball program. I have the upmost respect for Coach Smith, and I am confident this program, under her leadership, will progress in a positive direction."
Breneman directed the Tar Heel offense for the past six years, a period during which the team went to the NCAA Tournament every season while winning 40 or more games during her final five seasons on staff. Her squads have ranked in the top 100 in the country in home runs per at bat the past three seasons. She helped Danielle Spaulding become a three-time All-American, as Spaulding ranked among the nation's leaders in home runs in 2009 and 2010. Her work with the Tar Heel infielders helped North Carolina's defense to a top-25 rank in fielding percentage each year since 2007. In three of the last four seasons, UNC's
fielding percentage topped the Atlantic Coast Conference. In total, Breneman had a hand in eight student-athletes earning 14 All-ACC honors.
Before working at Chapel Hill, Breneman spent four seasons as the head coach at Bucknell. She led the Bison to the Patriot League tournament for the first time in four years during the 2004 season, while she was named the league's Coach of the Year. Breneman got her head coaching start at East Stroudsburg University, working for five years at the helm of the Warriors program.
As a player, Breneman excelled as a shortstop at Bloomsburg University, earning All-America honors once and All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference first-team accolades three times. A four-year letterwinner under legendary head coach Jan Hutchinson, she still holds the Huskies record with 351 career assists. Bloomsburg made the NCAA Tournament all four years, finishing second in Division II in 1991 and third in 1990 and 1992. Breneman was inducted into the Bloomsburg University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. After graduating in 1994 with a degree in adult health/cardiac rehab, she played for two years in the Women's Pro Softball League for the Georgia Pride.
ISF WILL PURSUE SOLO 2020 OLYMPIC BID
PLANT CITY, FLORIDA (USA) – “The (International Softball Federation) has always acted as an independent sport, and presently plans to continue that internationally accepted practice.” That statement was part of a letter that Don Porter, the president of the sports’ world governing body, sent recently to International Baseball Federation President Riccardo Fraccari. The communication was intended to make clear softball’s position as it relates to seeking to be re-admitted to the programme of the Summer Olympics.
Mr. Fraccari had written to Mr. Porter stating that a joint baseball-softball bid is the “only way back into the Olympic program.” Last month at a meeting in Venezuela the ISF president received the unanimous support of the Board of Directors to continue plans to re-present softball – both women’s and men’s fast pitch – for consideration for the 2020 Olympic Games. A decision on the sports for that programme will be made in 2013.
Mr. Porter noted in his letter to the IBAF president that, “Softball has been an independently governed sport for many years and its independent and separate proposal was accepted in 1991 by the (International Olympic Committee) when softball was added to the Olympic programme beginning in 1996.”
He further noted that, “Softball, on its own, meets all criteria for inclusion as an Olympic medal sport, a position it has enjoyed through the 2008 Games in Beijing, which completed softball’s fourth Olympiad as a medal sport.”
The ISF ran a “BackSoftball” campaign aimed at getting the sport reinstated for the 2016 Olympics but was not among the two sports on the IOC Executive Board’s shortlist recommended last August for addition to those Games. Softball had first been left off the programme of the 2012 Olympics following a tie vote at the IOC Session in Singapore in July 2005.
The ISF is the world governing body of the sport as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and SportAccord (formerly the General Association of International Sports Federations). Softball (women’s fast pitch) made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. There are 128 affiliated countries in the ISF and millions of participants in the sport worldwide.