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Fastpitch Coach: Q&A

Kathy Arendsen, Head Softball Coach, Mississippi State University.

Year in this position: Fourth.

Overall won-lost record at present position: 104-76

Previous Softball Head or assistant softball coaching positions: Head Coach: Yale 1991-95, Eastern Illinois 1989-91, Western Connecticut 1983. Assistant Coach: Northwestern 1984-87, Connecticut 1982, Temple 1981.

Other accomplishments: 1993 Ivy Championship; Eighth in Division I (top major Division I) in academics in 1998 (3.25 GPA), 13th in 1999 (3.26 GPA). Finalist at 1998 SEC Tournament

Undergraduate Alma Mater and year graduated: Chico State University, 1980; also attended Texas Woman's University.

Softball playing career highlights: 1979 CWS championship-Texas Woman's, 1980 Division III CWS championship (Chico State). Three World Championships (1979, 1986, 1990), two Pan American Games (1979, Gold; 1883, Silver), Nine ASA National Championships (Raybestos Brakettes). Thirteen-time ASA All- America pitcher, three-time Honda-Broderick Award winner (1978-79-80). Finalist for Sullivan Award -1982. ASA Hall of Fame, 1996

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

KA: I always knew I wanted to be involved with sport--found that I loved coaching when serving as a graduate assistant coach at Temple.

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

KA: My club coach-Ralph Raymond - game strategy, motivation; my high school (Holland,MI Christian) coach-Dennis Spoelman, positive coaching; Margo Jonker (Central Michigan)-fairness, how to be a mentor; Sharon Drysdale (Northwestern)-practice organization, progressive drills; Joan Wallace (Chico State)-keeping perspective, to love whatever you do; and my grandpa, Justin Marlink who always encouraged me to follow my dreams.

Q: What do you think you do best as a coach?

KA: Recruiting (not only talented athletes, but also personalities that fit well in our program), coaching from a positive perspective, supporting the education of our student-athletes.

Q: What would you change, if anything, about the recruiting process?

KA: Eliminate negative recruiting and have more detailed recruiting information consistently available at all recruiting tournaments

Q: If there is one rule or procedure change you would like to see your national governing body adopt, what would it be?

KA: Unify the pitching distance at 40 feet (colleges are now the only level of play not at 40'), to allow college coaches to coach club teams that include a limited number of their own players, and to change the 50-day recruiting limit--too restrictive!.

Q: When recruiting, what's the first thing you look for in a player? What's the second thing?

KA: 1. Fundamental skills 2. Attitude/passion for softball

Q: What makes for a successful season?

KA: Achieving team objectives set in preseason.

Q: What do you think was the best coaching job you ever did?

KA: A tie--helping Yale go from last place in 1992 to the Ivy Championship in 1993 with 13 freshmen! Also, being the last coaching staff hired in the SEC for a start-up program (Feb 1, 1996), recruiting an entire team by August, and achieving the championship game in only our second season (1998)

Q: What was your greatest moment as a coach?

KA: Believe it or not it was the loss in the '98 SEC Championship game--our players gave everything they had, and left it all on the field. That game culminated an outstanding season!

Q: What was your worst moment as a coach?

KA: I don't dwell on negatives--can't think of any.

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

K A: Hard to pick just one...We were rushing through the Atlanta airport in '97 to catch a flight (our first team flight ever) with seven freshman trying to keep up with me--in a single file line, quacking as if they were trying to catch up with mother duck!

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

KA: 1.Technology!! 2. Players are more focused on individual goals (college scholarships, USA Softball, WPSL Softball).

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?

KA: Probably both are at fault--technology is advancing so rapidly. I hope that we will research exit speed of bats and compression of balls and find high performance, yet safe and fair, equipment standards.

Q: What do you love most about coaching?

KA: Competition and the interaction with people!

Q: What do you love least about coaching?

KA: Not much time to mow the lawn or do my laundry before my next trip!!

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

KA: Earn their degrees and believe that they made the right decision to attend Mississippi State.

Q: Who was the best player you've ever coached against?

KA: Stacey Nuveman, UCLA. We had incredible respect for not only her powerful bat but also her very strong arm as a catcher. We had to pitch around her allowing the players in front of and behind her to get much better pitches than they would have had Stacey not hit between them. We made more adjustments for her than any other player.

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

KA: 1999 UCLA--great all-around team, maybe best college team in last 10 years.

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

KA: Europe--I've always wanted to explore Amsterdam, London and Paris.

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

KA: Coach the College World Series Champion!

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

KA: Your first goal for your players should be for them to graduate. Second would be for the finest and most successful softball experience.

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

KA: Working in sports promotions or with a sports organization.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

KA: Armageddon

Q: Who is your favorite movie star?

KA: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan

Q: What is your favorite television show?

KA: Providence and The Practice

Q: What is your favorite song?

KA: "Cheap Seats" Alabama

Q: What is your favorite food?

KA: Filet mignon and mashed potatoes

Q: Your favorite book?

KA: Patricia Cornwall novels

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

KA: "A fierce competitor with great integrity and passion for life."