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Fastpitch Coach: Q&A

This week's Q&A guest is Lu Harris.

Years & record at current school (Nicholls State): Second Season, 52-9.

Previous Coaching Experience: Head Coach, Women's Pro Fastpitch, Orlando Wahoos; Head Coach, Nicholls State University; Assistant Coach, Western Illinois University; 1996 Speedline/NFCA Southeast Region Coach of the Year; 1996 WomenÃŒs Pro Fastpitch Coach of the Year, WPF Champions; 1999 Speedline/NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.

Education: B.S. Western Illinois, M.S. Western Illinois

Softball Playing Career Highlights: Making lifelong friends.

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

LH: After completing my graduate internship at the Palm Beach Institute of Sports Medicine, I realized that if I was going to spend my life motivating people, college athletics was where I should be. I was fortunate to have an awesome coach, mentor, and friend in Kathy Veroni. She gave me my first coaching opportunity.

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

LH: My dad was one of my greatest inspirations. He taught me to reach for high expectations and always to believe in my ability. I started pitching when I was 12 years old. I can still hear him telling me to close my eyes and throw the drop on the inside corner. Kathy Veroni taught me how to run an organization and how to persist in my dreams. George Zalakie, a personal development trainer, speaks to my heart regarding the mind and emotions. Skip Bertman, Pat Summit, Ken Ravizza and Jeff Janssen have also had a great effect on my coaching style. Payne Stewart and his commitment to Christ (WWJD).

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

LH: Teach student-athletes to believe in their ability on the field, in the classroom, and in their personal relationships with family and friends.

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

LH: Eliminate rules that decrease the opportunity for student-athletes to be seen.

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

LH: Instead of having a block of days to use in the non- traditional season, I would like the fall to rotate, two weeks on, two weeks off, for the entire non-traditional segment. We could split the team in half, alternate whoÃŒs on and whoÃŒs off. This would give coaches more one on one time with the players, placing no more demands on the student athlete.

Q: When recruiting, what do you look for in a player?

LH: We look for athletes with speed, athletes who love to compete, and athletes with strong academics.

Q: What makes for a successful season?

LH: Striving for excellence on a daily basis-on the ball field, in the classroom, and in personal relationships with family and friends.

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

LH: Any practice that ended with everyone feeling united and strong.

Q: What was your greatest moment as a coach?

LH: When we are all on the same page. When they know what I am thinking, I know what they are thinking, and they know what each other is thinking. It is when competition becomes as smooth as a well-rehearsed Broadway musical.

Q: What was your worst moment as a coach?

LH: Any practice that I left with a negative feeling.

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

LH: We were away at the conference tournament. When I got to the bus the morning before our first competition it was apparent to me what all the giggles and laughter had been about the night before. All of the players had dyed their hair red (to imitate me). We ended up winning the tournament and going to the NCAA Regional Tournament.

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

LH: Parity. From coast to coast, there are so many great coaches and great programs.

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?

LH: Since we already use the same ball, I think we should all use the same bat as well. One ball, one bat, what could be more fair?

Q: What do you love most about coaching?

LH: Seeing student-athletes develop high self efficacy in all aspects of their lives.

Q: What do you love least about coaching?

LH: I love my job. It's hard to even call it work. The positives far exceed any negatives. Losing would be what I love the least.

Q: Please complete this sentence: My coaching career has been successful if...

LH:...the majority of my players: trust me, and have enjoyed the time we spent together.

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

LH: Sydney, Australia, to root on the USA softball team at the 2000 Olympics.

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

LH: Learn the fundamentals, learn how to teach the fundamentals, and enjoy every day.

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

LH: Working to teach underprivileged children about the awesome power of their minds.

Q: What is your favorite song?

LH: We are Family (by Sister Sledge)

Q: What is your favorite food?

LH: There are too many to mention. I love to eat (Hershey's Kisses and Diet Cokes).

Q: Your Favorite Book?

LH: Heads Up Baseball by Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson.