TAMPA, FL – Ken Eriksen has been around for a little while.
“You have to be around for a long time to have these types of milestones,” said the man who has been the head coach of the USF softball program since 1997.
Try 1,000 wins. Coach hit that mark just a few days ago in a no-hitter against East Carolina.
“He’s basically an icon in the sport of college softball, international softball,” said USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly. “To have achieved each and every one of them here at USF, at his alma mater, means a lot to our university and to our athletic department and it should mean something to our entire Tampa Bay region. I think that is why everyone is so excited about this.”
No group is more enthusiastic about winning for Coach Ken than his team.
“He definitely has instilled a massive sense of loyalty, of trust and just pride in a program,” said junior pitcher Georgina Corrick.
“Coach is an incredible man and he works very hard day in and day out to get there,” said senior outfielder, and Newsome alum, Brooke Leistl. “He helps us get to where we need to be.”
Eriksen is all about his players. His goal each season is to develop a team that can be a true extension of his staff on the field.
“I want them to feel the life of the game,” said Eriksen, who became the 25th D-I softball coach to reach 1,000 victories. “Our catchers call their own game, our pitchers call their own game with the catcher and our infielders call their own stuff.”
Eriksen’s wealth of knowledge and experience gives the Bulls confidence that no team is more prepared than they are.
“He’s been involved in so many different levels of the game that he is always learning from: techniques overseas versus here and then teaching it to us,” said Corrick.
Eriksen is also the head coach of Team USA softball. Prior to the pandemic he brought his squad to Tampa to face USF. The Bulls players noticed something about the two teams.
“We run our programs very similar,” said Leistl. “He treats us like those girls. I take a lot of pride and respect in that. That is pretty cool to be treated, and played, and taught just like they are at the international level.”
Eriksen hopes his players can apply what they’ve learned in college to be successful in anything.
“Just pass messages because in the end all we are, are messengers to the future,” said Eriksen.
1,000 wins is a milestone few coaches reach. Those who are part of that victory will talk about it forever. But in Ken Eriksen’s case, his players will remember him for so much more than a number.
You do everything with intent,” said Leistl, preaching one of Eriksen’s mottos. “He’s taught me more life lessons, and how to carry myself not only on the field but off the field.”
“He’s the greatest teacher that I’ve ever had,” said Corrick.