Q&A WITH RECENTLY RETIRED SOFTBALL HEAD COACH KATHY STRAHAN
After 21 years as Sacramento State's head softball coach, Kathy Strahan recently announced her retirement. Her final day in the athletics department is Aug. 6. A 30-year collegiate softball head coach, she began her coaching tenure at Sacramento State in 1993 after coaching seven years at San Jose State and two seasons at Cal State Dominguez Hills. She finished with 823 career wins, including 576 victories with the Hornets. The longest tenured softball coach in school history, Strahan's career with the Hornets spanned four different conferences. She recently had an opportunity to sit down with hornetsports.com. Below is the transcript from that interview.
Q: How did you decide to get into coaching?
A: I was involved in sports as a little kid and I just loved playing something. I ended up focusing on softball and basketball, and eventually chose softball. I loved the sports and loved competing. Becoming a coach just seemed like a natural evolution. I graduated from Michigan State in 1979 and women's teams were being added at the collegiate level all across the country because of Title IX. It was a great opportunity to get into the coaching profession.
Q: For the first time in over 40 years, you will not be a player or coach in the sport of softball. When do you think that will really hit you?
A: Probably when school starts in the fall and I don't have to report to practice. There are a few fall ball tournament weekends in October that I will look forward to in a different way now....I no longer have to be at the field two hours early for warmups. I can just show up at game time with sunflower seeds in my pocket and watch from the bleachers.
Q: Years from now, when people look back on your career, what do you want them to remember most about you?
A: That I was about doing the right thing while my teams were competitive on the field and excellent in the classroom.
Q: What are some of the fondest memories you will take from your 21 years of coaching at Sacramento State?
A: I was really moved this past season by the overflow crowd we had at home against Cal. It was quite a sight and a dream come true to have a sellout crowd. There are other great moments…winning the PCSC championship in 2008, (Alyssa) Nakken's home run late in the game against San Diego for my 800th career victory, watching Susie Bugliarello's amazing career in the circle, as well as so many other gifted athletes who wore a Hornet uniform. It was an honor to have a front row seat all those years.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of coaching collegiate softball?
A: Helping young women successfully balance the rigors of academics and athletics at the Div. I level and graduate with a degree. It is the greatest feeling seeing these young women go on and be successful in life.
Q: Later this summer, you will be inducted into your third Hall of Fame. What's it like to be inducted into three different Halls of Fame? (1995 Michigan Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame inductee; 2001 Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee as an individual; 2013 Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee as a member of the 1974-75 Lansing Laurels)
A: It's a huge honor. I played for the love of the game and was fortunate to have the support of my parents and two brothers while growing up. I have them to thank. Traveling to softball tournaments was a family affair, and without their support, this clearly would not be happening. It's kind of crazy to think of your name and picture being around for some eternity, like some day a youngster might point to it and say, "that was my great-great-great grandfather's sister."
Q: You've won over 800 games as a coach, been a Coach of the Year in three different conferences, led Sacramento State to NCAA Regional appearances and your teams always fare well on and off the field. What are the main reasons for the continued success of the program over the years?
A: Discipline and hard work. It's always been about that, knowing what you have to do and doing it. And that isn't always easy, it is hard work.
Q: If you could sum of your coaching career in one paragraph, what would you say?
A: The best time ever! I've had a great ride and met so many wonderful people. I've had a great time with the "kids". If I had to do it all over again, I'd coach collegiate softball.
Q: Its the postseason, tied score, bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning....which former or current Hornet do you send to the plate?
A: Lindy Winkler (2006 All-American)
Q: How about pitching....one game, winner take all. Which current or former Hornet do you send out to take the circle?
A: Susie Bugliarello (Three-time All-American, 1995-97)
Q: What's next for Kathy Strahan?
A: Enjoying some time off for a while and being a Sacramento State sports fan. I do want to stay connected to the University because collegiate athletics has been my whole life. If I get bored, I can volunteer with any number of organizations. I will always find something to do.