The Longhorns’ head coach for the past 23 seasons, Connie Clark helped launch UT Softball in 1996.
AUSTIN, Texas – Connie Clark, the Head Softball Coach at Texas since the program began in 1996, stepped down on Wednesday. The only softball coach in UT history, she led the program for 23 seasons with the first year as a club sport and the past 22 as an NCAA varsity program. A national search for Clark’s successor will begin immediately.
“After a lot of reflection and consideration, I have decided to step down as Head Softball Coach at Texas,” Clark said. “This decision comes with a great deal of emotion because it was such a blessing to be able to build this program from day one and to manage it for 23 years. I was so lucky to have that chance as a rookie head coach, and I’m beyond thankful to Jody Conradt for that opportunity. When I think back to all of the energy we’ve poured into this program, the many highs we’ve had and the lows we’ve grown from, it’s been truly special. I’m really proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish. To the women who helped us from that first club season until now, I’m forever grateful to you and all you’ve done for the program. You, your families, all the staff, I’m so fortunate to have made a lifetime of friendships during my time at Texas.
“But I feel like it’s a really good time to pass the baton. The program has a great foundation in place, and it’s refreshing to be able to make this decision and go out on my own terms. I know a coach can come in and hit the ground running because the culture is solid, and we have a great group of women in place from a character and talent standpoint. I’m extremely proud of all we’ve accomplished, but just think the timing is right for a change.”
“We can’t thank Coach Clark enough for everything she’s done for The University of Texas and our softball program,” Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said. “She was there from the beginning, built a strong foundation and had several tremendous seasons in her 23 years as head coach. She will always be remembered as the first coach in our proud softball history and celebrated for all of the great accomplishments she guided our young ladies to. We are forever grateful for all she’s given to Texas for so many years.”
In 22 varsity seasons at Texas, the three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year (2002, 2006 and 2010) has posted an overall record of 873-401-3. She led the Longhorns to five Women’s College World Series appearances (1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2013), 19 NCAA Tournament appearances (1998-2000, 2002-03, 2005-18), four Big 12 Conference Championship tournament titles (1999, 2002, 2003, 2005) and four Big 12 regular-season titles (2002, 2003, 2006, 2010). Texas’ appearance in the 1998 WCWS, in just its second varsity season, still ranks as the quickest arrival at the NCAA Division I softball “Elite Eight” tournament in the history of the sport. Clark produced one national player of the year (three times), 29 All-America selections, six Academic All-Americans and countless All-Big 12 honorees. Two of Clark’s Longhorns won Olympic Gold Medals (pitchers Cat Osterman and Christa Williams), and she has coached nine national and junior national team members.
“I think Chris Del Conte is going to do great things here, and I’m excited for the future of Texas Softball, but it’s time for me personally to start a new chapter in my life,” Clark said. “I think the timing coincides well for both me and the program to go in a new direction. I’m excited to see the new energy that will be brought to Texas Softball and look forward to being a fan, not only of softball, but all Texas sports. Thank you players, coaches, administration, fans and everyone one at The University of Texas. It’s been an awesome ride.”
Clark and Texas softball had a run of five straight seasons of 40 or more wins and a Top 20 Final National Ranking from 2009-13, including a Women’s College World Series appearance and No. 3 Final Ranking in 2013 and advancing to a Super Regional and finishing No. 9 in 2012.
A three-time All-America pitcher and 1987 Broderick Award winner as the national player of the year at Cal State Fullerton, Clark came to Texas after five years as an assistant coach at Florida State. The Glendale, Arizona native is a member of the Arizona Softball Foundation Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Hall of Fame and Cal State Fullerton Athletics Hall of Fame.
Source- Texas Softball