Softball, this time fast-pitch, returns to Flagler
Sep 2, 2008
by Devon Jeffreys, '08
This fall Flagler is adding a new sport to its roster, although it’s not quite “new.” While the college sported a women’s slow-pitch softball team in the ’70s and ’80s, it is being reincarnated this year as fast-pitch.
The decision to add softball has been on the agenda since Flagler made the move to NCAA Div. II. Most teams in the region have softball teams in place, and Flagler needed to make the
addition to its roster of sports.
To get the program rolling, Flagler named Kristen Atkinson head coach. Atkinson, a 2004 graduate of the University of North Florida, where she lettered in softball all four years, was the assistant coach at Nova Southeastern University last season.
“It’s not an opportunity that happens,” Atkinson said of heading the beginning of a collegiate softball program. “The way that softball is in this country right now, it’s a very popular thing. Not many people have that opportunity. Granted we did have slow-pitch softball, but that was 20 years ago.”
Though the slow-pitch program was successful, its legacy has faded and it will be 20 years in Flagler’s past when the first pitch of the fast-pitch era flies in spring 2009. So Atkinson is tasked with building the program completely from scratch.
And it’s no easy task.
“My first priority was to start recruiting,” she said. “My focus was going to be to get kids familiar with Flagler College. When it comes to the softball world and girls that want to play college softball, when they do their research, Flagler is not one of the schools that they research because we didn’t have it.”
Atkinson has tapped into a network of high school and college coaches in Florida that she established while at Nova Southeastern and Indian River Community College, to get the word out about Flagler’s new program.
“It was really mainly about networking and getting the recruits in,” she said. “I haven’t even ordered equipment yet. I haven’t ordered uniforms. We’re working on the field.”
Flagler is converting a baseball practice field into its softball field, a task that will be completed this summer.
Atkinson already has eight players committed to her first team and is using a unique pitch to get recruits excited about Flagler softball.
“Being a first-year program, we’re starting a tradition,” she said. “You’ve got to want to start this program. You can’t be afraid of not having any history here. It’s a new legacy. You’ve got to be able to come in and start this on the right foot and be very competitive from the first year because that’s the way I am.”
For more on Flagler’s softball program, visithttp://athletics.flagler.edu.Tagged As