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Revisiting the 2016 Coaching Carousel

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The softball Coaching Carousel is a popular topic every summer. Hirings and firings, resignations and retirements; whatever the precursor to a particular move, even small schools and lower divisions catch attention when a coaching transaction happens.

We decided to take a look back at some of the Coaching Carousels of years past. Check out the most recent article in this series here. Next up: The 2016 offseason.

There were thirty head coaching moves in total during the 2016 offseason, including the same school twice. Four Power Five schools made head coaching changes during this summer, including Arizona State; Iowa State; Virginia; and Purdue. The SEC was the only conference without a head coaching change during this offseason.

Of the head coaches who took on new roles during the 2016 offseason, seventeen remained in their roles during the 2020 season. One coach among those seventeen, Vashion Johnson at North Carolina Central, departed his position following the regular season’s end.

The Horizon League and the Southland Conference led all conferences in turnover, with a trio of coaching changes in each league during this offseason. Horizon League members Green Bay, Illinois-Chicago, and Wright State and Southland schools McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi all experienced changes at the head coaching position.

Arizona State hired Trisha Ford as their new head coach during this offseason. Previously the head coach at Fresno State, Ford had long been considered a future Power Five head coach, and she took over the Sun Devils’ program after a few years of turmoil. Just two years later, the Sun Devils were a surprising participant in the Women’s College World Series, reaching the sport’s pinnacle ahead of even their own anticipated timeline.

Kyla Holas retired from the University of Houston this summer in another notable move, ending her tenure leading the Cougars after sixteen years. She was the only head coach that the program had ever known to that point, and led the squad to a pair of Super Regional berths during her tenure. She was replaced by Kristin Vesely, who was promoted from the team’s assistant coaching position.

Following a late resignation from Amanda Rivera at IUPUI, the program brought in an interim head coach from outside the school. Heather Tarter assumed the program’s helm, while former Georgia standout Brianna Hesson took over assistant coaching duties, also on an interim basis. The pair would go on to lead IUPUI to the conference’s regular-season championship with an 11-6 league record and the program’s first-ever #1 seed in the conference tournament.

Some footnotes on the 2016 Carousel:

  • Other mid-major hires that have led to impressive results for their respective schools include Nicole Dickson’s hiring at Stephen F. Austin and Eric Oakley’s promotion to head coach at Kent State.
  • Wright State was the afore-mentioned school that experienced two head coaching changes in one offseason. Following the departure of Lynn Curylo for Illinois-Chicago, the Raiders hired Ray Loeser from Division II Charleston. In December, Loeser parted ways with the program and his assistant, Justine Wichman, who had followed him from Charleston, was made the interim head coach for the regular season.
  • Four head coaches that were hired during the 2016 offseason also spent the 2020 season as Division I head coaches, but at different schools.

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