Odessa College Assistant Softball Coach Melanie Jaegers was recently honored as the NJCAA Division 1 Softball Assistant Coach of the Year. This accolade was by way of the National Fast Pitch Softball Coaches Association (NFCA). Coach Jaegers sat down with us this week to discuss coaching, OC and the honor bestowed by the NFCA.
Tell us about your background in softball?
MJ – I was raised in Mesquite, Texas and attended Horn High School. While at Horn HS I participated in both volleyball and softball. I was a catcher in softball and was recruited by NCAA Division 1 schools to play softball in college. I settled on Wichita State University in Kansas, participating for four years at WSU. After my four seasons of eligibility, I stayed on at Wichita State to pursue and obtain a Master's Degree in Sports Management. Once I received my Master's Degree I accepted a position as an assistant softball coach at Western Texas College. I stayed at WTC for one year and then accepted the assistant coaching position at Odessa College and am currently in my third year at OC.
Why Odessa College?
MJ – Coaching in the conference (WJCAC) it very soon became clear that OC was one of the top softball jobs in the NJCAA. Additionally the opportunity to work under Coach Jeff Jackson was an attraction for me. This was a chance to coach and learn in a very supportive environment.
Impression of Odessa College after two years?
MJ - Odessa College is the most supportive work environment I have ever worked at. The administration and faculty/staff make it very easy to be successful at OC.
MJ - I have always been a defense oriented player/coach. It starts with good pitching and catching and then moves to good communication in the field, good technique and great effort. You will always be in games and remain competitive if you can defend. I believe in recruiting the right student-athletes, one that believe in a team atmosphere. From there Coach Jackson and I place the team in situations that build team values, create leadership, represent OC softball on campus and within the community, and become successful within the classroom and on the field.
What is the role of academics within Odessa College softball?
MJ – Academics are the reason the student is at OC at the end of the day. Sports are a temporary part of their life, but the coursework and degrees are forever. It once again goes back to recruiting the right kids. If a student really desires to be successful, OC is the right place. The instructors will work with the student, tutors are available to assist and our program rules mandate study hall hours to ensure success.
What are your career aspirations?
MJ - First off to take the 2020 OC team to the NJCAA National Tournament in Utah. Eventually I would like to be a head coach at a NCAA Division 1 University.
Can you tell us about your recruiting philosophy?
MJ – Recruit the best athlete's available, without regard to position. Take the best multi-tool athletes available. We can develop good athletes into being good college softball players, at a position of need. We also look for recruits that are good students, good citizens and ones that want to be a member of a team. Location in recruiting is not important, but Texas High School softball is very good nationally.
Give us the details on the NFCA Award you received.
MJ – The award is presented in the fall, but recognizes achievement from the previous calendar year. The award I was fortunate enough to receive was for the NJCAA Division 1 Assistant Coach of the Year. Obviously an am extremely grateful and happy to receive this award. More than anything else, it is gratifying to have the feeling that you are appreciated and valued. Coach Jackson nominated me for this award and that is a great feeling, to know that your boss appreciates all your hard work.
What are your thoughts regarding the 2020 Odessa College Softball team?
MJ – This team is very fast and athletic. We are currently working hard in the weight room to get stronger and better conditioned. Our pitching should be good and will be the deepest in my three years at OC. We are looking to use our speed and athleticism, rather than the long ball. This should be a gap to gap hitting team with good quality depth at every position. This is Coach Jackson's third year at OC, which means we recruited this team. We chose these student-athletes and they chose us. With great athletes, tremendous team cohesiveness, the goal is to win the WJCAC and Region 5 West and go to Utah.
MJ – I am so fortunate and appreciative of working with Coach Jackson and at a college where success is obtainable at the highest level.
Head OC Softball Coach Jeff Jackson commented regarding the honor bestowed upon Coach Jaegers, "I am not surprised but very pleased that Coach Jaegers was selected as NJCAA Assistant Coach of the Year. She is the epitome of a top tier assistant who has her hands in every aspect of our program, but still goes above and beyond all expectations. This program is better because of her and I am so happy that the NFCA has awarded her the recognition she so easily deserves." Odessa College Athletic Director Wayne Baker commented further by stating, "Coach Jaegers is typical of the young, energetic coaches that we are able to attract to Odessa College. These coaches are high energy, intelligent, team oriented individuals, and OC is better because of them. Our athletic department is fortunate to have Coach Jaegers as she is the consummate team player that is supportive of all programs at Odessa College."
Best of luck to the Odessa College Softball Program and Coach Jaegers in 2020.