Former North Florida softball star joins Flagler to revive softball program
By Kristin Egan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Indian River Community College assistant softball coach Kristin Atkinson has been hired to start a new fast-pitch softball program at Flagler College.
“I feel honored to coach the first fast-pitch softball program in Flagler College history,” Atkinson said. “The girls we are going to have will be very competitive and are going to win. Just because it’s a first-year program does not mean that we need to build for the next 10 years. We are going to start off at a very competitive and high level.”
Flagler has never had a fast-pitch women’s team. A slow-pitch softball team lasted 20 seasons from 1970-1989. The first official season for fast-pitch softball will begin in the spring of 2009 with Atkinson as the head coach.
Atkinson said softball is a huge part of her life. In high school, her team won the fast-pitch state championship in 1997. She went on to play four years of collegiate ball at the University of North Florida as both a catcher and outfielder.
After graduating in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, she started coaching college softball as the assistant coach at Indian River Community College. While she was an assistant coach for IRCC her team finished second and third in the nation. After two seasons, Atkinson left IRCC and became the assistant coach at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
Although Atkinson was not looking for another coaching job, she did hear about the chance to start a new fast-pitch program at nearby Flagler College through a friend.
“The opportunity was there, and I would have been silly to turn it down,” Atkinson said.
Athletic Director David Barnett hired Atkinson in hopes that she would bring energy to start a new program here.
“Her experience at the Div. II level and her connections in the state of Florida will serve well in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes,” Barnett said.
She brings with her high praise from former colleagues as well.
“She was a great leader on and off the field and will make a great head coach,” UNF softball Coach Sonya Wilmoth said. “She is the perfect person to start a new program.”
Atkinson has already started the recruiting process at many different junior colleges as well as high schools. She says that the players that are coming in are very talented and that there are a few senior girls who have already committed to Flagler.
Flagler has hopes of joining the Sunshine State Conference for the 2009 season. Recruitment will be key as Flagler will face stiffer competition than if they stay independent.
For additional information on Atkinson or Flagler’s new fast-pitch softball program, go to the college’s athletics Web site at http://athletics.flagler.edu.