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Fastpitch Coach: Q&A

This week's guest is Linda Derk.

Years at this position: Just completed first season.

Overall won-lost record at present position: 37-29.

Preivous Softball Head or assistant softball coaching positions: Assistant coach at the following: Ursinus College, Drexel University, Temple, U.S. Military Academy. Head coach at East Stroudsburg (Penn.) and at Indiana State University.

Other accomplishments: Best Record in FireStix history, WPSL Championship, WPSL Coach of the Year; featured on the cover of Softball Magazine.

Undergraduate Alma Mater: Slippery Rock University (Penn.) 1987, Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education (teaching K-12).

Postgraduate degrees: Master of Education in Sport Management, Temple University (Penn.) 1993.

Softball playing career highlights: Four-year letterwinner, Slippery Rock University; Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honorable mention. Allentown Pates Women's Master Team for 10 years; 1987 Mid-Atlantic Champions, 1990 Mid-Atlantic Runners-up, 1994 Level I and II Olympic Trial Participant.

Q: When did you know you wanted to coach fastpitch softball and how did you get started?

LD: In junior high school. I volunteered as a JV coach for high school basketball team, then as an assistant for softball at Ursinus College where I made a whopping $500.

Q: Who are some of the coaches and non-coaches you learned the most from and what did you learn?

LD: My parents, brothers and sisters. they always supported me and stuck by me and encouraged me. Carol Kashow (University of Pennsylvania) taught me a lot about softball. My high school coaches, for encouragment and self-esteem. Tom Lindemuth taught me the business end of sport.

Q: What makes for a successful season?

LD: Guiding and watching your team come together to achieve a common mission.

Q: What do you think were the best coaching jobs you ever did?

LD: The FireStix and at West Point.

Q: What were your greatest moments as a coach?

LD: Watching my college players graduate and winning the WPSL championship.

Q: What was your worst moment as a coach?

LD: Getting abused by the media when my team wasn't winning.

Q: What is funniest/strangest/most memorable experience you and your team have had on the road?

LD: We were driving from Indiana State to play Southern Illinois in our famous Sycamore 25-passenger bus. A car pulled alongside us and pointed to the back of the bus. We realized that the doors had come open and bags were flying out! The assistant coaches ran to collect the bags off Interstate 90. Computer was OK but our media guy's clothes bag was ruined.

Q: How has the game changed since you first became involved?

LD: Equipment technology, the players' mind is different, support for our sport is greater.

Q: What's your take on the bat and ball issue? Are the balls or bats at fault, or both, or neither? Is there a problem? If so, what would you like to see done?

LD: Equipment and technological advancement is necessary as our sport grows and advances. I would like to see less greed, with the companies and coaches working together to make a great, safe product.

Q: What do you love most about coaching?

LD: Working with and teaching players. Doing my small part to give back to the sport and to the cummunity.

Q: What do you love least about coaching?

LD: Politics and paperwork!

Q: Please complete this sentence: "My coaching career has been successful if the majority of my players...

LD: Have learned, grown and are willing to give back to others in a positive way."

Q: Who was the best player youíve ever coached against?

LD: Crystl Bustos (WPSL Akron Racers). An offensive nightmare.

Q: Which is the best team you've ever coached against?

LD: UCLA, 1996. Great pitching, unbelievable 1-9 attack.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world for a week, all expenses paid, where would you go?

LD: Australia.

Q: What haven't you done yet in your life that you still want to do?

LD: Travel around the world. Bungi jump.

Q: What advice would you give to young people who want to coach softball?

LD: Be positive, listen, don't be afraid to be an assistant coach for a few years. Have fun and get the most out of each day.

Q: If you weren't coaching softball, what would you be doing?

LD: Motivational speaker, own my own marketing company.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

LD: A League Of Their Own.

Q: Who are your favorite movie stars?

LD: John Travolta, Meg Ryan.

Q: What is your favorite television show?

LD: ESPN Sportscenter.

Q: What is your favorite song?

LD: Remember - Sara McLaughlin.

Q: What is your favorite food?

LD: Chinese

Q: Your favorite book?

LD: Reach for the Summit - Pat Summitt

Q: When "The One Great Scorer comes to write against your name", what would you like to see written there?

LD: "She loved her family and her friends. She loved life. She was honest, hardworking, and always ready to lend a helping hand. Carpe Diem."