Q&A: A time to rebuild

Kristen Soukup has the task of rebuilding the Eastern New Mexico University women’s softball program after serving as the director of compliance for ENMU last year.

Eric Norwood Jr.: Portales News-Tribune Eastern New Mexico University women’s softball coach Kristen Soukup encourages her team during practice on Wednesday.

Eric Norwood Jr.: Portales News-Tribune
Eastern New Mexico University women’s softball coach Kristen Soukup encourages her team during practice on Wednesday.

After a successful playing career at Concordia University, where she was named NCAA Regional Tournament most valuable player in 2005 and 2006, Soukup joined the staff at Concordia.

How will you apply your knowledge from working as director of compliance into coaching?

I definitely have a strong working knowledge of NCAA rules. My duties included anything and everything in a Division II NCAA legislation manual. I also know where to look to find answers to my questions- when I need to.

 

You had a lot of success as a player and assistant coach at Concordia. What were some of the factors that led to that?

One thing about me, is that I am competitive. I will choose to outwork the hardest working person I know. I set goals for myself and when I feel deficient in an area, I strive to turn a weakness into a strength. As a player, specifically a pitcher, you have the ability to help your team change the outcome of the game by striking out 10-plus batters a game. I had great coaches and teammates who were on the same plan to win. Sometimes, when you expect to win and don’t realize you can lose, you play at an elite level because you do not know any other way. It becomes a way of life. That’s the environment I had playing in college and that’s what I hope to instill here at ENMU.

 

Was it one of your goals to coach softball at the college level?

I have always wanted to coach at the collegiate level. I had dreams of being a doctor since I was little, but I also had a dream to play profession softball. When my first opportunity to coach came around, I jumped at the chance.

 

When the job opened up, how did you find out about the opening and what encouraged you to apply?

Once I had heard the previous coach had resigned, I waited for the job posting to open. I applied just like any other candidate and went through the traditional steps. I really wanted to apply and had talked to our athletic director and president about the possibility. Ultimately, I was encouraged to move forward and apply by my husband, Oliver Soukup. He essentially reminded me that this was an opportunity to get back to what I love, coaching.

 

What is a memorable moment from your own playing days?

I find there are many moments that make me feel rewarded for the hard-work:

  • Making it to the NCAA Elite 8
  • Throwing a perfect game in the NCAA Sweet 16
  • Being inducted into the Minnesota High School Fast-pitch Hall of Fame
  • Being inducted into the my High School Hall of Fame.

 

If you could play in the MLB for one day, which team would you play for and what position?

I would probably play for the Minnesota Twins. (Hometown and all that) I think I would like to play catcher. You get to be involved in every play, but you get to the see the whole game in front of you.

 

What are some of your team goals for this season?

I am hoping we are going to: Steal a lot of bases, turn a lot of double plays and surprise a lot of people in our conference and region. Ultimately, we plan on trying to make our conference tournament this year. There is a tough road ahead for that, but the kids are excited to work and I am excited to see what we can do.

 

Who is your favorite athlete of all time?

I would say one of my favorite athletes of all time would be Larry Bird or Michael Jordan.

 

How long have you been playing softball?

I have been playing softball since I was about 4. I have always played up with my older sisters. I started actually playing competitive fast-pitch when I was 8 years old on my sister’s 12-and-under team. She was my catcher. I think I specifically started pitching when I was about 6. I watched Lisa Fernandez pitch for Team USA and decided that was the thing for me.

— Compiled by PNT staff writer Eric Norwood Jr.

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