Only a week and a half after being named Northern Illinois University’s head softball coach, Christina Sutcliffe made a quick transition and found herself knee deep in recruiting and preparing for the 2013 season.
On June 18, Sutcliffe was named NIU’s softball coach and was excited about being a part of NIU athletics and to be coaching in the Mid-American Conference.
“I am very comfortable with the MAC and the success they’re having from top to bottom,” Sutcliffe, who replaced Lindsay Chouinard after Chouinard stepped down in May, said. “The success that NIU in particular has had in the past year is amazing, and I just want to continue to help grow the athletic department as a whole.”
Sutcliffe has spent 11 years as a coach at the collegiate level, and for seven of those years she coached in the MAC.
Since 2004, after being the softball coach for three years at Rhode Island University, Sutcliffe was an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) University and feels that her familiarity with the MAC puts her at ease.
“I definitely feel more comfortable knowing all the coaches, and I know all of the teams we will be playing,” Sutcliffe said. “Being familiar with the Midwest and what it has to offer gives me a very comfortable feeling.”
Sutcliffe said she is excited to continue coaching in the MAC, and said she feels fantastic to be a part of the Northern Illinois coaching staff.
“It truly is a family atmosphere. Everyone has been so supportive, and I couldn’t ask for anything more at this point,” Sutcliffe said.
The new coach has not met with any of the current players because she quickly went to work on recruiting. Sutcliffe, who has recently spent time in Colorado recruiting, feels that the girls she has talked to about coming to NIU feel ready to play softball at the college level.
“The girls are relieved that there is a coach in place and are looking forward to getting on board and working with everyone else,” Sutcliffe said.
The NIU softball team had its first winning season since 2003 in 2011. The season ended with a record of 26-25. Sutcliffe has a lot to look forward to and has already set, what she thinks to be, some pretty big goals.
“Getting a championship ring is our biggest goal. NIU hasn’t had one in a little bit, and I know that the players are all great and will work hard,” Sutcliffe said. “The girls are hungry for it, and I look forward to the challenge of creating that environment.”