Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA welcomes Stuedeman as softball coach

Edgar Zamorano

“When I look at hiring head coaches, it’s foremost that they fit the values of our department, and our athletics program, and our institution. And that’s about [the] student first. That’s what we’re here to do. To help mentor and develop students,” UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lisa Campos said after a welcome event on Thursday for new head coach Vann Stuedeman.

In June, UTSA announced coach Stuedeman as the new head coach for the softball program. An accomplished coaching veteran, coach Stuedeman has built an impressive resume through her various outings as both a pitching coach and head coach.

During her stint as the pitching coach for Alabama from 2000-2011, she helped the Crimson Tide win three SEC regular season titles and reach the Women’s College World Series six times. Compiling a record of 276-189 as Mississippi State head coach from 2012-2019, which earned her the third-best winning percentage in the university’s softball coaching history, the Bulldogs made seven NCAA Tournament appearances in her eight years. If there are two things to describe coach Stuedeman, it is both winning and student-oriented.

“I think that this program and athletic department is on the rise. I wanted to be a part of the growth of the whole athletic department. San Antonio is a great city to live in, and it’s a great softball city,” Stuedeman said when asked why she chose UTSA.

“She’s been leading a winning program. She’s gone to very high levels. It’s always important to me that someone has been around winning. They know what it looks like. They know what it feels like. They know how to develop that,” Campos stated.

As a coaching veteran, she has guided the development of numerous student-athletes. Under her tutelage, her pitchers have earned 12 All-America honors, 23 All-Region Awards, 12 All-SEC accolades, three SEC Pitchers of the Year, an SEC Freshman of the Year and the SEC Tournament MVP. A self-described players’ coach, she values being able to mentor the athletes she works with, which aligns nicely with what Campos envisions for the softball program.

  “I want to get the best out of the players, not only on the field but off the field more importantly as a person. To see them empower each other to be the best versions of themselves. Watch them grow in [not only] softball but also you know when you’re in college,” Stuedeman stated. “You’re making decisions that will impact you for the rest of your life. That’s the forefront of why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

“It is really about developing students in all areas of life. Making sure they’re just having exceptional experience, culminating in graduation,” Campos said. “Everyone we spoke to just talked about how [Stuedeman] is very much about developing students, helping them grow in this really critical time of being 18 to 22-year-olds.”

When asked to pick one word to describe what makes a program excel, coach Stuedeman chose grit.

“One word is grit. I think gritty individuals never say no. They continue to dig for the answers. And that’s not just in softball or in athletic venues. It’s in research. It’s in people in every field. You just keep outlasting. You never go away,” Stuedeman said.

The softball program continues to develop and grow as coach Stuedeman builds her coaching staff with the recent hires of assistant coaches Tori Smith and Jim Bray. The most important thing to coach Stuedeman and the success of the softball program is community support through various means like recruiting—bolstered by assistant coach Smith and her connections during her junior college days, attending games and appreciating even the smallest moments within a game.

“We love to get out into the community. We support them. They support us. Coming to the games is the best part. Being educated in the stands is also great. We learn and grow from those opportunities, so that’s a very good avenue to support us,” Stuedeman stated.

After the departure of the previous head coach, Michelle Cheatham, the program is heading in the right direction with this hire. Cheatham announced her resignation in May of this year after leading the softball program for 10 seasons as head coach and eight seasons as assistant coach.

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About the Contributors
Misty Olawunmi
Misty Olawunmi, Staff Writer
Edgar Zamorano, Photographer
Major: Marketing Time at Paisano: 2 months Reason to join: Found an interest and a gap no one was filling in the school’s sports photography that helped players get their photos

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