This fall, we’re debuting a new series that is focused solely on introducing some of the new assistant coaches across Division I. It’s been a busy carousel, and we touched base with a handful of new hires in different parts of the country to talk about them, their coaching paths, and what makes them tick.
In the debut of our Rounding the Bases series, the spotlight shines on new Louisiana Tech assistant Chelsea Cohen. Cohen is the Lady Techsters’ new pitching coach under Josh Taylor, and previously served in a role on the Nevada coaching staff. She wasn’t with the Wolfpack under Taylor, but did follow him from Reno to Ruston to take the job.
A former Arkansas Razorback, Cohen graduated from UA in 2013 and stood in the top ten in a number of statistical categories upon her graduation. Following her collegiate career, she spent several years playing and coaching overseas, including in Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, Australia, Austria, and Argentina.
JWOS: When did you realize that coaching was a career that you wanted to pursue?
Chelsea Cohen: I just recently found my love and desire to pursue coaching as a career. I felt the need to follow a different career path the past couple years. Softball has been my whole life and I wanted to explore other avenues. I found myself at the field after a full day of work every day and I knew my heart was telling me something. This is where I want to be and this is where I belong. There are many things that I have learned throughout my career that I wish I could share with my younger self. Coaching gives me the ability to share my lessons with others and watch them grow and shape their own playing careers.
JWOS: Tell me about your international endeavors and how those experiences have shaped you into the person and coach that you are now.
Cohen: Traveling internationally is something I will forever be grateful for. To be able to say that before I turned 30 years old I had been to nearly 30 different countries is pretty spectacular. I was able to be a tourist and a local because of the softball families that wrapped their arms around me in each and every country. Having the opportunity to be a part of many different cultures, languages and backgrounds has helped me grow and mature in more ways than I even realize today.
I played for, with and against so many different types of people. I learned a lot by first listening and understanding how they did things. Getting to know the way they played the game and then adding a few key pieces to the puzzle helped grow the team, the players, and the coaches. I plan to continue to listen first and learn from as many people as I can, including our athletes here at LA Tech. Each athlete comes from a different background so understanding how to communicate effectively in a way they respond to is important.
Having the opportunity to play and coach internationally, I was reminded that softball is a game and should be appreciated and played as the game it is. Sometimes we have to take a step back to remind ourselves of the love of the game!
JWOS: What are your favorite memories from your playing days at Arkansas?
Cohen: Playing for the University of Arkansas is something that I am very proud of. When I think about my time at the University I think about my teammates, the hard work we put in together and the fun we had. The overall energy and support in Fayetteville was something special.
One of my favorite memories was the 2012 NCAA Berkley Regional in Berkley, California. I had many family and friends come out to support our team, and watch me play for the Razorbacks for the first time in person. Upsetting the #1 Cal Bears that evening is something I will never forget.
JWOS: After spending your own playing career in this region, has that Southern experience made the transition and cross-country move to Ruston any easier this summer?
Cohen: I think it helped me feel more comfortable with my decision to move back to this region, but the Ruston community has truly made this transition easy. Between the LA Tech staff, the neighborhood I moved into and the people you meet just around town. I couldn’t be more grateful for the support and warm welcome I have received. With that said, I don’t think moving cross-country away from my family will ever get any easier.
JWOS: What aspects of the La Tech position intrigued you the most? What was the linchpin that made you say “yes” to accepting it?
Cohen: There are many different factors that went into my decision to join Coach Taylor at LA Tech, the first being Coach Taylor and our Athletic Director, Dr. Eric Wood. I am fortunate to have two amazing mentors to look up to and learn from. LA Tech is investing in the softball program and it was clear to me that they want this program to grow, I am excited to be a part of that. The amazing new facilities and community were another big bonus for me!
JWOS: Describe your coaching style to me. What do you see as your greatest strengths as a coach?
Cohen: I like to push my athletes to coach and learn for themselves. I want to guide the conversation but allow them to find their own answers, just like they would need to do in a game situation. Especially at this level, these athletes have a pretty good idea of how to be successful. Most of the time it’s all about getting them to trust something mentally and fine tuning mechanics here and there. I’m looking forward to utilizing the technology we have at LA Tech to go over game film, mechanics and spin efficiency to help them see and find the answers they need to continue to get better each day.
I see one of my greatest strengths as a coach is my ability to empathize. Most of the time I have been there before. I have had the tough innings and early morning weights followed by a test and a tough practice. Having the ability to relate and understand the ups and downs gives me an inside on how and when to motivate each player.
JWOS: If we’re doing this interview one year from now, what do you want to see happen in your first year at La Tech that would let you sit back and say ‘this has been a successful year’?
Cohen: This first year will be all about relationships, culture, and confidence building. With a whole new coaching staff and a brand new facility, we will be making ourselves at home and building a family. At the end of the year I want to see our girls walking around with confidence, I want them to look at their teammates, our staff and these facilities and believe that we will compete with the top programs.