Blinn College softball coach Rick Church and his staff have been recognized as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s NJCAA Division I Regional Coaching Staff of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.
Church and assistants Jami Ingram and Haley Long led the Buccaneers to a fifth-place finish at the NJCAA National Championships in St. George, Utah last month. Blinn, which also won its fourth consecutive Region XIV championship, went 51-10 on the season.
Church, Jami Ingram and Christina LeCompte were named the Midwest Region coaching staff of the year in 2009; Church and Ingram earned the honor in 2010 and Church, Ingram and Long were recognized in 2011.
“We have high expectations,” Church said. “We don’t accept excuses and we push people to get the most out of them that we can. We don’t just talk about having high preparations, we mean it and I think that shows in our daily preparation.”
Church, who just completed his 13th season with Blinn, has led the Bucs to Region XIV championships in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He won his 600th career game in February and now boasts a career record of 641-252. He is the winningest coach in Blinn softball history with 567 victories in Buccaneer blue.
Both Ingram and Long played for Church at Blinn before continuing their playing careers at four-year institutions and returning to the Buccaneers as assistant coaches. Ingram, who has been named to the Texas Women’s University hall of fame for her accomplishments on the diamond, just completed her seventh season on the Buccaneers’ coaching staff. Long, who played her freshman season at Blinn before playing three years at the University of Nebraska, just completed her second season at Blinn.
“We have that consistency year after year, so we know the game plan, the practice plan and we don’t have to spend a lot of time educating the assistant coaches,” Church said. “Having former players who have played in your system, then keeping them for a couple years makes for quality practices and quality game-day management. You can divide the workload and give everything the attention it needs. That’s what makes it possible to win 50 games in a season.”
This year the National Fastpitch Coaches Association also recognized national champion Chattanooga (Tenn.) State in the South Region and Salt Lake (Utah) in the West Region. All three teams are now eligible to be named as the 2012 NFCA NJCAA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year, which will be announced on June 14.