STARKVILLE, Miss. – Fourteen coaches were honored at the 2011 NFCA National Convention in Las Vegas for having achieved the prestigious rank of Four-Star Master Coach, an honor bestowed to those who have completed all eight National Fastpitch Coaches Colleges courses.
These 14 join 82 other coaches who have also reached the milestone since the program began in 2002. The first class of Four-Star Master Coaches was recognized at the 2005 Convention and included 22 members.
Since its founding in 2002, the NFCC has been one of the cornerstones of the NFCA’s pledge to help continually educate softball coaches of all levels. Along with earning the title of Four-Star Master Coach, completion of the eight-course curriculum can also count towards a master’s degree in coaching from Texas Woman’s University.
Having now completed all eight courses, this year’s crop of graduates was not shy in telling how the NFCC curriculum has made them a better coach.
“Perhaps the greatest benefit for me has been the confidence to push the envelope (suicide squeeze, angle down, secondary first and thirds) in game situations,” said Cheqamegon High School (Wis.) head coach Ken Dischler. “The on-the-field sessions with college players have been especially beneficial in this regard-seeing how many times these techniques are successful, often when the defense knows what is about to happen.”
San Diego State assistant coach Stacy Nuveman-Deniz agrees that one of the best ways to expand your coaching repertoire is to attend NFCC courses.
“I have a whole new arsenal of drills and motivational tools to help my team now and in the future. Probably the best part of the NFCC program is the ability to interact with the best and most accomplished coaches in the game and to share ideas with fellow students.”
Madge Makowske, head coach at St. Catherine (Minn.), agrees with Nuveman that NFCC courses are an excellent way to expand your knowledge base.
“I thought it would be great to continue to add knowledge to the coaching toolbox and to hear from highly successful college coaches. I was able to challenge my philosophy and implement new ideas.”
One of the biggest assets of NFCC courses is the ability to interact with the instructors, who are some the brightest minds in the world of softball. Leslie Huntington, head coach of the 2008 Division III National Champions, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, says that the interaction is one of the best parts of the courses.
“I felt the courses provided a unique opportunity for the participants to share and engage in open conversation with the instructors and other participants, rather than just being 'talked to' by the instructors.”
While the NFCC courses can teach you what to do on the field, they can also provide help in off-field situations.
“I coach travel ball and they helped me grow in every aspect of the game of softball," said Bill Beckham of Wizards of Magic. “From how to evaluate the fields before the game even starts, through specific offensive and defensive skills, all the way to how to react when we won the USSSA national championship.”
While each course is geared towards a specific topic, the classes themselves can be fluid based on the needs of those attending.
“The coaching courses are very versatile in that they allow the class to move into whatever topic the coaches really want to dive into,” said Yasmin Mossadeghi, head coach at Southwestern (Calif.). “If there are topics that the class really wants to talk about. then more time is spent on those topics.”
Mike Delaney, head coach at Village Christian HS (Calif.), says that not only are NFCC courses a useful tool, but one of the best values on the market for coaches.
“As a coach, you are always looking for a way to get better and the NFCC program was the best use of resources that I have spent. Each course makes you re-think the way you run practices, teach and communicate with your team. To learn from some of the best minds in the game was truly a blessing for me.”
This year’s slate of NFCC courses will wrap-up at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City with Course 408: World Series Coaching & Game Observation on May 31 – June 2. John Tschida and NFCA Hall of Famers Gayle Blevins and Dianne Baker will lead participants in breaking down the on-field action and in talks with WCWS participant coaches after their games.
For more information on the Four-Star Master Coach program or to register for course 408, click here.
NFCC Four-Star Master Coaches – Class of 2011
Bill Beckham - Wizards of Fastpitch
Lindsay Bramhall - Thomas More
Mike Delaney - Village Christian HS (CA)
Ken Dischler - Chequamegon HS (WI)
Blythe Golden - Gulf Coast State
Leslie Huntington - Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Greg Lamanna - Seton Hall
Madge Makowske - St. Catherine (MN)
John Maloney - Long Island Anthem
Yasmin Mossadeghi - Southwestern (CA)
Stacey Nuveman-Deniz - San Diego State
Joanna Payette - Stetson
Sherry Tetreault - Eisenhower HS (OK)