By Dillan Straight
When the Lady Cavs softball team hits the diamonds next year, they will do so under new leadership. Head coach Kelly Latendresse recently announced she is moving on from her successful tenure at the college to take the position as head coach for MidAmerica Nazarene University.
Latendresse began her coaching career as an assistant in 2004 and was named head coach in 2006. She was a leading force in creating the successful softball program the college enjoyed in recent years.
Finishing with an 196-76 (.721) record as head coach, Latendresse earned an arsenal of accolades in winning four Region VI titles, coaching 11 NJCAA All-Americans, 8 NJCAA All-Tournament selections, 31 All Region VI performers, and 33 All-Jayhawk Conference performers while leading four teams to the NJCAA Division II Tournament. She was twice selected as the NFCA South Region Coach of the Year for NJCAA Division II during her period as head coach.
“As an athlete and a coach I’m a very competitive person,” Latendresse said. “I’ve always looked to advance myself and make myself better. I’ve always wanted to make the move into four-year university level and saw this as a good opportunity to make that move for myself and my family. It was an opportunity to advance myself to the next level.”
Latendresse said the call came very late in the summer and left her with a tough choice in leaving what she had created while at the college.
“Their head coach left at the end of the summer,” Latendresse said. “It was a late decision and a really quick decision. It was about the first or second week of August when I had heard from MidAmerica that their coach had left and got the call to see if I was interested in the position.”
“We found out two days after she got offered the job,” said assistant coach Aubree Brattin. “She let us know as early as she could she was leaving, but either way, it was shock for everyone.”
Latendresse is succeeded in her duties by Brattin as intern-coach along with Samantha Fleeman filling the role as First Assistant position. There are already some changes in place for the softball team.
“We have a team GPA goal now, kind of puts an emphasis on their academics,” said Fleeman. “Rules to create an accountability that they didn’t have before.”
Latendresse believes the college made the right decision moving Brattin and Fleeman up in ranking, acknowledging both were coaches the girls already knew, trusted, and knew how to continue running a system set for success.
“Sometimes when you get new assistants they can kind of be hesitant while getting their feet wet in their first year, but these two really weren’t,” she said. “They jumped right in. They did what needed to be done and always willing to put in the extra time and do whatever I needed them to do.”
Brattin said the team members each took Latendresse’s departure in different ways.
“Some were upset, some were shocked,” she said. “We had a meeting with the girls shortly after and told them, ‘You worry about school, you worry about softball, and we’ll worry about the rest.”
“They’re going on and they’re doing as asked, going into every day like we haven’t missed a step.”
Contact Dillan Straight, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.