|New UC softball coach certain energy will trump age |
|By: By MIKE HUTCHENS, Messenger Sports Editor |
|Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2009 2:02 pm |
What Union City’s new head softball coach lacks in experience, she more than makes up for in confidence.
“I played the game. I know the game. I told Mr. Kennedy right off the bat I’d be an excellent choice,” said 24-year-old Cristina Grimm, who was named to head both the Lady Tornado high school and middle school softball programs on Thursday.
Grimm has no previous head coaching experience, but did serve as an assistant in the UCHS girls’ basketball program this past season — a role she’ll continue in this fall under new Lady Twister skipper Eddie Suiter.
She was a prep playing standout in both softball and basketball at West Noble (Ind.) High School, where she served as a three-year captain and was an all-conference performer as a pitcher/infielder.
The 2007 UT Martin graduate replaces Shane Sisco, who resigned his softball duties earlier this month after a three-season stint in which the program established some respectability while compiling a 58-49 mark that included the sport’s first-ever two trips to the regional tournament.
UCHS principal-in-waiting Wes Kennedy, who will take over his new administration duties full-time in June, conducted an extensive search for a new coach before deciding Grimm was a good fit for the position and program overall.
“Of all the coaches I talked to about the job, she had the most positive attitude and was the most excited about the challenges of taking the program to the next level,” Kennedy said. “Her enthusiasm kept bringing me back to her.
“She understands the expectations and is genuinely thrilled to have the chance to prove herself. I believe she’ll do a great job.”
Grimm, who will continue to teach at Union City Elementary School, acknowledged her lack of seasoning, but insisted that issue and her age wouldn’t necessarily be a negative now that she has landed her first head coaching job.
“I knew the experience factor and my age would probably work against me, but everybody deserves a chance to prove themselves and I plan on doing that,” she said. “My inexperience can be countered by the fact that I’m energetic, and my age can actually be a positive because it’ll allow me to better relate to the girls and what they go through on the field and off.
“I just have a great deal of confidence in myself that this was a good decision made by our school administration for both me and the program.”
Kennedy, who has now hired coaches in girls’ basketball, softball, golf and three assistants in football since being tabbed as Barry Duncan’s successor, says plans are for Grimm to be aided by two yet-to-be-named assistants — one with previous head coaching expereince.
“That will be great,” Grimm said. “I certainly wouldn’t mind having someone with a lot of experience helping me whom I can learn from. If I can gain knowledge from someone at the same time I’m making our program successful, it’s a win-win situation.”
The new UC skipper said she’d welcome the support and positive influence of those truly interested in the program, but left no doubt who’ll be running the show.
“Both the girls and I will appreciate any encouragement and parental support we can get, and I want the kids to get positive reinforcement from home,” Grimm claimed. “The team will be on the field, though, and not behind the fence. I’ll demand their full attention for the time we practice or play every day, and I expect everyone to be respectful that I’m the coach and in charge of making the decisions.”
Union City returns all but one starter from this past year’s club that went 18-14.
The Lady Tornadoes will begin summer workouts next week and Grimm’s tenure that will present and answer the obvious questions about her youth and inexperience.
“I know at 24, there will be people who will question my ability to be an effective and successful head coach,” she concluded. “Again, though, I know the game. I know how to work hard. And I know the only way to be successful is to be committed to doing all the things — both big and small — and doing them right.
“I’m confident I can do the job they hired me for.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.