Lynn Coutts has been busy.
Since being named the University of Maine’s softball coach in November, she has not only gotten acquainted with her players while putting them through their paces, she has also hired two assistant coaches; organized a variety of events to get her players involved in the community and orchestrated fundraisers that have resulted in her having already met the team’s budget.
She also gave a few talks at the World Softball Coaches Convention at the Mohegan Sun Resort Casino in Connecticut two Saturdays ago. One talk was titled “Getting Creative with Your Indoor Practices” and the other was “How to Inspire Your Athletes from the Inside Out.”
“It was wonderful,” Coutts said.
Coutts, a former standout pitcher at Maine, is involved in all aspects of the softball program and is integrating a new philosophy for it.
“We’re trying to change the dynamics and culture of the program,” said Coutts. “We’re going to be aggressive on the bases. We’ll make mistakes but we’re going to put pressure on defenses. We also want to be quicker on defense.
“They’re learning to get a little tougher and more competitive. We’ve got to keep getting better. We can’t be satisfied,” she added.
Coutts and her Black Bears will depart for the first of their two spring trips next week and open against Illinois State in Tampa on Feb. 10.
The Bears will participate in the three-day University of South Florida Tournament in Tampa and one of their opponents will be the University of Florida, NCAA runners-up a year ago.
They will spend two weeks in California during school break from Feb. 27-March 11.
“Things have been going well,” said Coutts, a UMaine Hall of Famer courtesy of an outstanding softball career at Maine. “We were on Mahaney Diamond the other day working on some defensive things. Nobody complained.”
Mahaney Diamond is the baseball field and has FieldTurf.
Full-time assistant Kevin Welch will serve as the third base coach and has been working with the players on hitting and defense and volunteer coach Maureen Barron, wife of UMaine women’s basketball coach Richard Barron, has been applying her expertise with the pitchers.
Barron was a star pitcher at Princeton and went on to coach the Tigers.
The two trips will see the Black Bears face five teams that played in the NCAA Tournament a year ago: Florida, Illinois State, Long Beach State, San Diego State and Harvard.
The schedule was compiled by former coach Deb Smith.
“It’s maybe more aggressive than I’d like to see right now but it is what it is and we’ll attack it,” said Coutts.
As for future fundraisers, Coutts intends to sell bricks that will include the contributors’ names and will be displayed behind the dugout in a patio area and she will host a golf tournament at the Martindale Country Club in Auburn on Aug. 20.
“People have been so generous,” she said.
Coutts and her Black Bears will host their annual Black Bear Breakfast Wednesday 7:30-9 a.m. at the Wells Conference Center and tickets are available for $20 per person.