LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With just over a month to go, the NFCA Virtual Convention (Dec. 9-11, 2020) roster is filling up. Stay up-to-date on all things Virtual Convention on NFCA.org and social media platforms.
The NFCA Virtual Convention offers several options to choose from when it comes to X’s and O’s. Whether it’s pitching, hitting or team practices, this week’s quintet of speakers have you covered. Charlotte head coach Ashley Chastain, Northwestern assistant coach Michelle Gascoigne and Duke head coach Marissa Young have you covered in the circle. South Carolina assistant coach Kaela Jackson will have you digging your cleats in the batter’s box and Georgia Gwinnett head coach Kat Ihlenburg will provide you with ideas to add a little more competition to your team practices.
Only two more weeks to secure early-bird rates! Registration, presented by Traveling Teams, for the NFCA Virtual Convention is $199 for members and $299 for non-members. Attendees will have access to the on-demand content for 30 days following the Convention. Additionally, members can select a $20 upgrade ($219 total) for lifetime access to on-demand content.
Be sure to sign up by Nov. 16 to secure the early-bird rate (rates will increase afterward) and be in the running for our final two prizes - a $100 gift card from Amazon and an on-field equipment package ($350 value). Also, register by December 1 to receive a Convention attendee gift courtesy of USA Softball.
NFCA Members: Have you experienced a furlough or been laid off during the pandemic? If so, we want to help. The NFCA is committed to supporting its members through this pandemic. We understand the impact of COVID-19 is widespread and far-reaching. Please contact our membership team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 409-4600 for special discounted Virtual Convention pricing.
More about the speakers:
Ashley Chastain is in her second year as Charlotte’s head coach. In her first season, Chastain guided the 49ers to 14 victories, which included a Conference USA series win over Florida Atlantic, before the season was halted. Along with its inaugural series win over the Owls, Chastain’s catcher Bailey Vannoy ended the season leading Division I with 12 home runs and 36 RBI, while the pitching staff’s ERA was two runs lower than 2019.
Prior to Charlotte, Chastain served as the pitching coach at Ole Miss, Michigan State and College of Charleston. She helped the Rebels to a NCAA Super Regional as the staff boasted a 2.29 ERA and a .238 batting average against. In two seasons with Ole Miss, the Rebels recorded 24 shutouts and owned the Southeastern Conference’s fifth lowest ERA in 2019. During her one season with Michigan State, the Spartans’ team ERA lowered by nearly a run and a half from the previous season.
Kat Ihlenburg, Georgia Gwinnett's only head coach, has developed the Grizzlies into a championship squad built upon toughness, character and a devotion to its community. The five-time Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Coach of the Year led Georgia Gwinnett to consecutive NAIA World Series in 2018 and 2019, the first two appearances in program history.
Ihlenburg, who serves on the NFCA Board of Directors as the NAIA representative, has steered the Grizzlies to four A.I.I. conference championships, five NAIA tournament bids, and recognition as the NAIA Champions of Character team award winner. Ihlenburg has amassed 298 victories in the program’s first eight years and recorded back-to-back 50-win seasons in 2017 and 2018. The 2019 squad featured a national semifinal appearance with a win over No. 2 Marian (Ind.), 45 victories and a sweep of the NAIA Opening Round Bracket.
Michelle Gascoigne, a 2013 NCAA champion and former Chicago Bandits ace, joined Northwestern as a pitching coach in September of 2015. In her first three seasons, Gascoigne has brought a major drop in the ERA of Wildcat hurlers, including the 2018 season which saw NU lose its No. 1 and No. 2 starters to season-ending injuries. Her hard work and dedication to the staff was brought to fruition with a breakout 2019 season.
Under her tutelage, the Northwestern staff, due in large part by the historic debut of freshman Danielle Williams, either was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in several Big Ten pitching categories, and finished the season with NCAA’s 17th lowest ERA at 1.95. Williams, the Schutt Sports / NFCA Freshman of the Year, became just the fourth ‘Cat to post a 30-win season to go along with her 317 strikeouts.
Kaela Jackson, a South Carolina alumna, joined the Gamecock coaching staff as an assistant coach for the 2019 season. In just one season, South Carolina hitters found plenty of success at the plate under the direction of Jackson. As far as season records go, Carolina set a new high mark for on-base percentage, home runs and RBI. Overall, the program’s offensive numbers saw significant increases from 2018, including a 34-point improvement in batting average, 34 more walks and 50 less strikeouts.
She came to Columbia following three successful years at Michigan State, where she helped lead the Spartan offense to top-10 finishes in 12 different categories in two of her three seasons. The 2017 squad ranked in the top 25 in four offensive categories and set seven single-season records, including batting average, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. She began her coaching career as a volunteer assistant with the Gamecocks.
Marissa Young was named the first head softball coach in Duke University history. In her first three seasons, she steered the young Blue Devil squad to 77 wins, including 29 in its inaugural season, and two Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament appearances. Duke got off to a torrid start in 2020, posting a 23-4 record, and earning its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent in No. 4 Texas.
Duke’s 29-27 mark in 2018 marked the fifth most wins by a first-year ACC program, along with being the seventh league team to finish with a winning record in their first season. The Blue Devils also won their first-ever collegiate game against Florida Atlantic and picked up 13 triumphs in ACC play. Prior to Duke, Young was a two-year assistant coach at North Carolina. She has also spent time as an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan and head coach at Concordia University Ann Arbor.